What is it about?

We need to update the rules about how we use new technologies to improve plants. Scientists are using a method called gene-editing to make better plants, but it brings up questions about what's right and legal. Our study looks at how gene-editing is talked about in research and the big issues about whether it's okay to use it. We looked at a lot of papers to understand what people are saying about it and found some important things we need to think about when making rules for gene-editing in plant breeding.

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Why is it important?

Biotechnology policies and regulations play a vital role in shaping the landscape of modern agriculture. As advancements in plant breeding technology continue to emerge, it becomes increasingly necessary to revise and update existing regulations to accommodate these developments. New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs), such as gene-editing, have revolutionized the way scientists improve crop varieties. However, the adoption of NPBTs raises ethical and legal concerns, necessitating a reevaluation of regulatory frameworks to ensure the responsible and ethical use of these technologies. Understanding the ethical implications of gene-editing in plant breeding is crucial for a broad readership. Manipulating the genetic makeup of plants raises questions about the morality of altering organisms for human benefit. These ethical considerations extend beyond scientific circles, engaging the public in discussions about the potential risks and benefits of genetic modification in agriculture. By exploring these ethical dilemmas, readers gain insight into the complex intersection of science, ethics, and society. In addition to ethical considerations, the legal framework surrounding gene-editing in plant breeding is also a topic of significant importance. As gene-editing technologies evolve, policymakers and legal professionals must navigate a rapidly changing landscape to develop appropriate regulations. This includes addressing issues related to intellectual property rights, biosafety regulations, and international agreements. Understanding the legal implications of gene-editing ensures that regulatory frameworks are robust and adaptable to emerging challenges in agricultural biotechnology. Furthermore, the future governance of gene-editing in plant breeding requires careful consideration of ethical and legal dimensions. By conducting systematic literature reviews, researchers can identify critical research priorities and policy gaps that must be addressed to ensure responsible governance of gene-editing technologies. This information empowers policymakers, stakeholders, and the broader public to participate in informed decision-making processes that balance innovation with safety, ethics, and sustainability.


Gene-editing in plant breeding is a pivotal moment in agriculture, with the potential to address global challenges like food security and climate change. However, it raises important ethical and legal questions. Is it right to manipulate the genetic makeup of plants? How do we regulate these technologies effectively? Understanding these issues is crucial for navigating the ethical complexities and shaping responsible governance. In my view, engaging with these questions is not just an academic exercise but a moral imperative, guiding us towards ethical, equitable, and sustainable solutions in agricultural biotechnology.

Mr. Lee Wei Chang
University of Malaya

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: 基因编辑在植物育种中的道德和法律影响: 一项系统性文献综述, Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B, July 2023, Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE,
DOI: 10.1631/jzus.b2200601.
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