America has barely gotten a handle on how to deal with the kinds of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that have been around for decades.
Now, a new kind of GMO is available in grocery stores, and regulators are divided on how to approach it.
The new technologies—which have gained traction in the past five years—are different from the genetic modification that is commonly used. They are more precise, and scientists say they pose a lower risk of causing unintended changes to the DNA. But they are the same in that they artificially change the DNA of organisms.
They go by many different names, often eluding the notice of a public wary of GMOs. Crispr-Cas9 and Talen are the names of two specific technologies, for example, and “new plant breeding techniques” or “gene editing” are a couple of the broad terms being used.