VIB has been granted a permit to proceed with its field trial with maize
plants containing small surgical CRISPR-induced heritable changes. This
permit allows VIB to continue the work that began in 2017.
Dirk Inzé, scientific director of the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems
Biology said, "There is a worldwide consensus that CRISPR-modified crops are
at least as safe as traditionally generated mutants."
In the field trial of maize plants, mutations are induced in genes involved
in the repair of DNA damage. The researchers hope that this will make DNA
damage in these plants caused by environmental stress (heat, UV radiation,
drought) to accumulate more easily. Through this alteration, the plants can
be used as a biosensor to signal the consequences of environmental stress at
DNA level. The plants from the field trial are not meant to be further
developed and will never enter the market or food chain.