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Japanese Panel on Regulating Gene Editing

A government panel in Japan has decided not to regulate some types of gene editing, according to the Japanese broadcaster NHK.

The panel concluded that genetic recombination regulations encompass the insertion of new genes into organisms, NHK reports. But these regulations, it adds, do not include genome editing in which mutations are created at a targeted site and no new gene is inserted.

NHK adds that the Japanese government is to assemble a group of experts to further the panel's decision.

In the US, the Department of Agriculture has said it has no plans to regulate genome-edited crops, though Europe has taken a more stringent stance on gene editing. The European Court of Justice recently ruled gene editing to be a type of genetic modification that falls under the GMO Directive.

In an editorial, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun calls on Japan to take a more of a European route. "Regulating gene editing demands a sufficient dose of cautiousness required for dealing with such new technology that could entail various unexpected risks," it cautions.

Hideharu Anazawa from the Japan Bioindustry Association tells NHK, though, that the panel's decision is appropriate.