The Indian government has issued an order exempting specific types of genome-edited crops from the stringent regulations applied to genetically-modified (GM) crops, Business Standard reported.

Issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, the order exempts SDN1 and SDN2 genome-edited plants from Rules 7-11 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) governing the manufacture, use, import, export and storage of hazardous micro-organisms or genetically-engineered organisms or cells, according to the 30 March report.

The move was expected to give a boost to further research and development into genome-edited crops, the report said.

“The notification would pave a path for the government to approve and set out the guidelines on genome-edited plants pending since early 2020,” South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) founder director Bhagirath Choudhary said.

Although genome editing was discovered in 2012, Indian regulators took almost a decade to realise its potential for developing crops resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses and with nutritional superiority, according to the report.

“The current notification exempting some categories of genome-edited plants from cumbersome regulations will incentivise breeders and researchers to harness the power of genome editing for the welfare of the farming community,” Choudhury added.

Gene editing allows genetic material to be added, removed or altered in a particular location in a living organism's existing DNA, compared with the introduction of a new, foreign gene (genetic modification).