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.
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.
- Genetic Literacy Project’s FAQ on gene editing
- USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Annual: Colombia
- The regulatory current status of plant breeding technologies in some Latin American and the Caribbean countries