Field pathogenomics and Open data sharing approaches helped us to determine the cause of Bangladesh wheat blast is a lineage of South American Magnaporthe oryzae within weeks (http://s620715531.websitehome.co.uk/owb/?page_id=828). It was an unprecedented success story of collaborative efforts and a rapid responses of 31 researchers from 4 continents to an emerging fungal disease in a new continent. Development of new blast resistant wheat variety using genome editing of S-genes by CRISPR/Cas9 technology are now in progress (http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/projects?ref=BB%2FP023339%2F1). Whole genome and transcriptome sequences of a large number of wheat blast isolates from Bangladesh are also freely available at the Open Wheat Blast website. We believe that open science and open data sharing approaches by all researchers fighting against the wheat blast would facilitate rapid mitigation of this catastrophic plant disease.
The following statement in the article is inaccurate and may lead others to violate laws and regulations in the United States: “But the new gene-editing technique called Crispr-Cas9 may hold promise, since it’s not regulated in the United States and thus is not officially a GMO technology.”
The use of a specific technique is not what is regulated in the US – it is often the intent and purpose of the modification as well as the presence of plant pest sequences which will trigger regulatory oversight of biotech products. Determinations on how some products of gene editing may be handled by regulatory agencies have not been completed. It is plausible that products of site directed nucleases may be handled differently by USDA-APHIS, FDA-CFSAN and EPA-OPP depending on the specifics of the product and its intended use.
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