Corteva’s “waxy” corn was developed using CRISPR technology, a genome editing technique the giant seed and pesticide company is selling to regulators as “non-GMO” in order to bypass risk assessments and safety regulations.
At least five countries — Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile and the U.S. — have approved a variety of maize genetically modified (GM) with a genome editing technique called CRISPR, without subjecting the crop to the risk assessments and regulations for GM crops. Other countries could soon follow.
The GM maize is produced by U.S.-based Corteva, the world’s second largest seed company and fourth largest pesticides company. Corteva describes the variety as a “waxy corn” which, like conventional waxy corn varieties, produces a starch high in amylopectin and low in amylose. In this case, Corteva used genetic engineering to knock out the genes responsible for producing amylose from its non-waxy hybrid maize varieties.
A detailed profile of Corteva’s GM waxy corn was published this week by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).
Although Corteva uses transgenes and particle bombardment to develop its GM waxy maize, it claims that the crop should not be regulated as a GMO since the transgenic material is, according to the company, no longer present in the seeds that are sold. So far the relevant authorities in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile and the U.S. have cleared the crop for commercial release on this basis, without subjecting it to safety assessments required of other GM crops.
On the other hand, as noted by CBAN, “Corteva appears not to have applied for approval in the European Union where a 2018 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union requires genome edited crops to be subjected to the same stringent regulations as all genetically modified (GM) organisms.”
Corteva, which was created through the merger of Dow and DuPont’s agricultural divisions, has openly stated that it is using GM waxy corn to clear the way for the introduction of more GM crops produced with genome editing techniques (also known as “gene editing”). The CBAN profile highlights multiple documents and quotes from company executives that show that it deliberately chose a crop that it could bring to market without much attention or risks of liability.