Uruguay has no specific regulations for gene-edited crops. In 2018, Uruguay 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.
Uruguay regulates genetically engineered plants (GMOs) based on the process used to create genetically engineered plants rather than on the characteristics of the final products, as is typically the case in the US and many other countries. This limits the number of crops approved for sale. Genetically engineered plants are regulated by the National Biosafety Cabinet (GNBio), which oversees the Ministers of Agriculture, Economy, Environment, Health, Industry, and Foreign affairs.
- Herbicide-resistant soybean: Universidad de la República and Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA) researchers used CRISPR to develop glyphosate-resistant soybean.
- Healthier soybean: Universidad de la República and INIA researchers used CRISPR to reduce lectins in soybean, which can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
- Healthier fruits and vegetables: Universidad de la República and INIA researchers used CRISPR to develop mandarine and tomato with more lycopene, an antioxidant.
2018: Uruguay and 12 other nations 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.”
2018: Ministries of Agriculture of the South Agricultural Council (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) publish declaration stating they would avoid arbitrary and unjustifiable distinctions between agricultural products obtained by gene editing and those obtained through other methods, share information about the development of products and regulatory frameworks, explore opportunities for regional and international harmonization, and work together including with other countries to avoid obstacles.
2011: Cartagena Protocol (an international agreement) ratified, which protects the transport and use of organisms modified by biotechnology.
2008: Decree No. 353/008 ratifies a new regulatory framework, which establishes a process-based approach to regulating genetically engineered plants and includes risk, health, safety and environmental assessments.
2007: Decree No. 037 suspends the assessment of any new applications for genetically engineered crops.
2006: Ministry of Environment issues resolution banning the import and planting of genetically engineered sweet corn.
2004: Federal project to develop a proposal for a National Biosafety Framework (NBF) begins.
2000: Decree No. 249/000 by the Ministries of Agriculture, Economy, 86 Health and Environment establishes a framework with specific procedures for genetically engineered plants, including creating a Commission on Risk Assessment of Genetically Engineered Plants (CERV).
1996: Advisory Committee for Risk Analysis (CAAR) formed, comprised of representatives from the National Institute of Seeds (INASE) and the National Agricultural Research Institute (INIA) established permanently for the analysis of transgenic plants.
1995: General Direction of Agricultural Services (DGSA) of the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP) issues resolution establishing a procedure for risk analysis following transgenic corn and Round-up Ready (RR) soybean applications.