The OECD genome editing hub

This Hub is maintained as a result of the gene editing project of the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT) which is a partner in the genome editing conference.  

Gene editing techniques are a major advance that could have major benefits across the domains of human health, sustainability and the economy that go beyond incremental advances of past biotechnologies. In the context of agriculture and aquaculture, the potential benefits include opportunities for improved efficiency, greater productivity, broader varietal repertoires. In human medicine, gene editing technologies might lead to new cures and therapies for genetic diseases, controls for vector-borne diseases, and improved vaccines. Environmental applications of gene editing technologies could enable novel approaches to conservation, bioremediation, the control of invasive species, and the protection of biodiversity.

Find out more about the hub

OECD Conference on Genome Editing: Applications in Agriculture

 28-29 June 2018OECD, Paris


The OECD Conference on Genome Editing: Applications in Agriculture – Implications for Health, Environment and Regulation explored the safety and regulatory considerations raised by genome edited products, with the aim to favour a coherent policy approach to facilitate innovation involving genome editing and will bring together policy makers, academia, innovators and other stakeholders involved in the topic.

The conference was organised across three themes:

  • applications of genome editing in agriculture – including plant and animal breeding
  • risk and safety considerations
  • regulatory aspects

Genome editing – set of techniques in which specialised enzymes have been modified - can insert, replace or remove DNA from a genome with a high degree of specificity. Genome editing, and one of its most discussed techniques the CRISPR/Cas9 system, has received increasing attention in the academic press and the wider media. This advanced form of genetic engineering provides tools at relatively low cost for innovation in biomedicine, agriculture, industrial biotechnology and other sectors relating to the bioeconomy.

The rapidly growing use of genome editing has policy implications and human health and environmental safety considerations.

Conference proceedings and related publications

Conference documents

DAY 1 -  Thursday 28 June 2018

Opening: Welcome Session


This session provided an overview of OECD activities related to the Co-operative Research Programme.


Introductory Session

Objective This session presented background information on genome editing techniques in the broader context.

SESSION 1: Applications of genome editing in agriculture

Objective This session highlighted case studies and examples of agricultural applications of genome editing, particularly plant varieties or animal breeds that may be on or close to the market or under research and development.


DAY 2 -  Friday 29 June 2018

SESSION 2: Risk and Safety considerations

Objective This session explored any risk and safety considerations that may be associated with the application of genome editing techniques in agriculture. It highlighted the evolution and state of risk/safety assessment for the products of modern biotechnology, both for food/feed and environmental assessments. It also considered how genome editing techniques are applied and the nature and specificity of the genetic changes they create, including specificity of targeted changes and evidence about the nature of any off-target changes.

SESSION 3: Regulatory aspects

Objective This session addressed the regulatory questions associated with genome editing applications in agriculture, with a view to discussing approaches to address them. A short introduction suggested key issues to be considered regarding the regulatory oversight of genome edited products. The following series of presentations considered policy frameworks in specific countries.

Key publications relevant to genome editing

  • Gene editing in an international context: Scientific, economic and social issues across sectors, 2018
    This report summarises the discussions from the OECD workshop on “Gene editing in an international context: scientific, economic and social issues across sectors” held in Ottawa, Canada on 29-30 September 2016. Gene editing techniques represent a major advance in the field of biotechnological research and application, promising significant benefits across the domains of human health, sustainability and the economy. However, harnessing the potential of gene editing techniques will require meeting significant policy challenges in arenas of governance, ethics, and public engagement. 

  • High-Throughput DNA Sequencing in the Safety Assessment of Genetically Engineered Plants: OECD Workshop Proceedings, 2016
    This report collates the summaries of the presentations delivered during the “OECD Workshop on High-throughput DNA Sequencing in the Safety Assessment of Genetically Engineered Plants”, held on 18 April 2016 in Paris, France. The workshop presented the principles of high-throughput DNA sequencing, and included topics such as the basics of the technique as applied to molecular characterisation and the bioinformatics necessary for compiling and interpreting the resulting data.

  • Report of the OECD Workshop on Environmental Risk Assessment of products derived from New Plant Breeding Techniques, 2014
    The report describes the main outcomes of the "OECD Workshop on Environmental Risk Assessment of products derived from New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs)". The workshop focused on environmental risk/safety assessment (ERA) of new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs). The main purposes were: (i) to improve the general understanding of these techniques and products derived through them; and (ii) to share experiences of, and perspectives on, the ERA of products derived through NPBTs.

  • OECD Biotechnology Updates
    This Newsletter compiles up-to-date information on OECD events and publications related to biotechnology. It aims to share information at three levels: 1) within the Organisation, 2) with delegates to OECD meetings already familiar with certain aspects of the work, and 3) with the wider biotech community through the public website. Information on new publications, as well as upcoming events and meetings, are given.

Previous events

  • List of Co-operative Research conferences
    Information about both conferences/workshops and fellowships funded since 2010 can be found, including reports from conference organisers and fellows and links to proceedings and/or published papers that came out of the conferences or fellowships. 

  • Workshop on innovations in food and agriculture system: Policies to foster productive and sustainable solutions 
    The workshop took place in Paris on 25-26 February 2016. Its central aim was to discuss with experts how scientific, technological, and farm practice innovation can improve productivity and sustainability in the food and agricultural sector, with a focus on international collaboration on gene editing techniques.  
    It was introduced in the form of a presentation entitled ‘The Age of Gene editing’, produced by Steffi Friedrichs which played a pivotal role during the expert discussions.

Supported by

This event is held under the auspices of the OECD Global Forum on Biotechnology and is supported by: