Martin Lema Martin Lema is Adjunct Professor at the Biotechnology School of the National University of Quilmes, Argentina. He holds 20 years of experience as policymaker, including having served as former Director of Biotechnology in the Argentine Government and Chair of its National Biosafety Commission. He led this Commission to be recognized as the FAO Center of Reference for GMO biosafety, and to the issuing of the first ad hoc regulation for gene editing applied to agriculture in the world.


Experience from Argentina and LATAM countries


Argentina and other Latin American countries are quite advanced in the regulation and adoption of crops improved using modern biotechnology. Consequently, some of them have also developed pioneer and harmonized criteria for the regulation of gene editing applied to agriculture.
At present, these countries can apply such criteria to establish if a gene edited organism should be classified (and handled) either as a genetically modified crop or a conventional new variety.
With a caseload of about four dozen cases in less than a decade, it is possible to compare applications received for gene-edited vis a vis genetically modified organisms. Regulation is a bottleneck between the R&D and commercialization stages for biotech products, so this comparison can estimate the relative development rate for products that may reach the market and thus have an economic impact. Results show that this regulatory approach not only allows a safe insertion of these technologies in the market, but also improves local innovation economy, the number of developers-competitors, and product diversification.