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Colombia: Crops / Food

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Determined: No Unique Regulations*

Gene-edited crops that do not contain DNA from another species are regulated as conventional plants, so they don’t face the tighter restrictions of transgenic GMOs.

Gene-edited crops and food are regulated as conventionally-bred plants unless they contain foreign DNA, after a dossier is submitted to determine if they are exempt.

In 2018, the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) issued a resolution that established a case-by-case consultation process to determine if a gene-edited product is considered a GMO. The ICA must respond within 60 days whether the organism will be subject to GMO regulations. For a gene-edited crop not to be considered GMO, it must not contain genes from another species that have been introduced through modern biotechnology techniques.

In 2018, Colombia and 12 other nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil and the US, issued a joint statement to the World Trade Organization supporting relaxed regulations for gene editing, stating that governments should “avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions” between crops developed through gene editing and crops developed through conventional breeding. The ministries agreed to avoid obstacles without a scientific basis for the commercialization of products improved by genome editing, exchange information about products’ developments and applicable regulations and explore opportunities for regional harmonization.


  • Disease-resistant rice and cassava: Colombian scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) used CRISPR-Cas9 to create a strain of rice and cassava that is more easily digestible by consumers and disease resistant.
  • Safer cacao: Scientists from CIAT developed cacao varieties that absorb less cadmium, which is a known carcinogen.
  • Plants that can’t cross-pollinate: Scientists from CIAT used gene editing to develop plants with pollen sterility, which could be used to stop gene-edited plants from cross-pollinating with conventional varieties.
  • Grain with extra starch: Scientists from CIAT used gene editing to increase the concentration of amylopectin (a component of starch) in grains.
  • Bacteria-resistant grain: Scientists from CIAT developed grain resistant to a bacterial pathogen.

Regulatory Timeline

2018: Resolution No. 29299 establishes a case-by-case consultation process to determine if a gene-edited product is within the scope of GMO legislation.

2018: Colombia and 12 other nations, including Canada, Australia, Brazil and the US, issue a joint statement supporting agricultural applications of precision biotechnology, stating that governments should “avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions between end products (crop traits) derived from precision biotechnology and similar end products, obtained through other production methods.”

2006: Resolution 0946 establishes the procedure for the National Biosafety Committee (CTNBio) to process applications of GMOs for agriculture, livestock and fishing.

2002: Cartagena Protocol (an international agreement) ratified, which protects the transport and use of organisms modified by biotechnology.

1962: The Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA) is created to regulate crops and research, and to facilitate social agrarian reform.

NGO Reaction


Additional Resources


Click on a country (eg. Brazil, US) or region (eg. European Union) below to find which agriculture products and processes are approved or in development and their regulatory status. The regulations on genetically engineered crops and animals are emerging out of the regulatory landscape developed for transgenic GMOs.

European Union

European Union


New Zealand

New Zealand

United States

United States





United Kingdom

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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia

Central America

Central America




Agriculture Gene Editing Index
Compare Regulatory Restrictions Country-to-Country

Gene editing regulations worldwide are evolving. The Gene Editing Index ratings below represent the current status of gene editing regulations and will be updated as new regulations are passed.

Colors and ratings guide

Regulation StatusRating
Determined: No Unique Regulations*10
Lightly Regulated8
Proposed: No Unique Regulations†6
Ongoing Research, Regulations In Development5
Highly Regulated4
Mostly Prohibited2
Limited Research, No Clear Regulations1
Lightly Regulated: Some or all types of gene editing are regulated more strictly than conventional agriculture, but not as strictly as transgenic GMOs.
*Determined: No Unique Regulations: Gene-edited crops that do not incorporate DNA from another species are regulated as conventional plants with no additional restrictions.

†Proposed: No Unique Regulations: Decrees under consideration for gene-edited crops that do not incorporate DNA from another species would no require unique regulations beyond current what is imposed on conventional breeding.

Gene editing of plants and food products. Research and development has mostly focused on disease resistance, drought resistance, and increasing yield, but more recent advances have produced low trans-fat oils and high-fiber grains.
Gene editing of animals, not including animal research for human drugs and therapies. Fewer gene edited animals have been developed than gene edited crops, but scientists have developed hornless and heat-tolerant cattle and fast-growing tilapia may soon be the first gene edited animal to be consumed.

Rating by Country / Region
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Country / RegionFood / CropsAnimalsAg Rating
New Zealand444
Central America666

Global gene editing regulatory landscape

The regulations on genetically engineered crops and animals are emerging out of the regulatory landscape developed for transgenic GMOs. Regulations across 34 countries where transgenic or gene edited crops and animals are commercially allowed (as of 12/19) are guided in part by two factors:
Whether the country has ratified the international agreement that took effect in 2003 that aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from biotechnology that may impact biological diversity, also taking into account potential risks to human health. It entered into force for those nations that signed it in 2003. It applies the ‘precautionary approach as contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The US, Canada, Australia and Chile and the Russian Federation have not signed the treaty.
Whether regulations are based on the genetic process used to create the trait (conventional, mutagenesis, transgenesis, gene editing, etc.) or the final product.Transgenic crops and animals (aka GMOs) are product regulated in many countries including the US and Canada, while the EU, India, China and others regulate based on how the product is made. There is almost an equal number of countries with product- and process-based regulations. It’s not clear how much this distinction matters. It’s somewhat true that countries with product-based regulation have more crops approved and the approval process is more streamlined, but there are contradictions. For example, Brazil and Argentina have emerged as GMO super powers using different regulatory concepts, while there is no GMO commercial cultivation in Japan, North Korea, and the Russian Federation, which employ product-based regulations. How this will effect gene editing regulations is also unclear. For example, Japan, which has no commercialized GMOs, is emerging as a leader in the introduction of gene edited crops.
Agricultural Landscape
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Gene editing is a set of techniques that can be used to precisely modify the DNA of almost any organism. It is being used for applications in human health, gene drives and agriculture. There are numerous gene-editing tools besides CRISPR-Cas 9, which gets most of the attention because it is a comparatively easy tool to use.

Gene editing does not usually involve transgenics – moving ‘foreign’ genes between species. It also refers to a specific technique in contrast to the general term GMO, which is scientifically ambiguous, as genetic modification is a process not a product. Most gene editing involves creating new products by deleting very small segments of DNA (sometimes in agriculture called Site-Directed Nuclease 1 or SDN-1 techniques), which can silence a gene or change a gene’s activity. Countries are evaluating whether or not to regulate this type of gene editing, since it is so similar to natural mutations. The GLP’s Gene Editing Index ratings reflect the regulatory status of SDN-1 techniques, which are the most liberally regulated and will generate most products in the near term.

To develop different products, gene editing can change larger segments of DNA or add DNA from other species (a form of transgenics sometimes in agriculture called SDN-2 or SDN-3 techniques). While many countries are not regulating or lightly regulating SDN-1 techniques, most are moving toward tightly regulating or even restricting SDN-2 and SDN-3.

For more background on the various gene editing SDN techniques, read background articles here and here.