Gene edited crops and food are regulated as conventional plants unless they contain foreign DNA. Gene edited crops are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the Argentine Biosafety Commission (CONABIA).
In 2015, Argentina developed the first regulation in the world that specifically defines how crops developed using gene editing techniques are regulated. CONABIA considers gene edited crops on a case-by-case basis and must respond within 60 days whether the organism will be subject to GMO regulations. CONABIA considers: a) the techniques used in the process; b) if there was a permanent genetic change; and c) the absence of a transgene in the end product. Even if a crop is exempt from GMO regulations, if it possesses characteristics that present the probability of significant risk it can undergo further monitoring by authorities. The previous regulation that defined and regulated GMOs could be triggered by either the presence of novel traits in the end product or by the genetic modification process used.
National Service on Agricultural Food Health and Quality (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria; SENASA) is responsible for evaluating genetically engineered food. The risk evaluation includes an assessment of whether such food is harmful, its nutritional characteristics, and a comparison between the GM-derived food and its conventional counterpart. There is no legally mandated label for genetically engineered food.
- Non-browning potatoes: The Institute of Agricultural Technology of Argentina (INTA) used CRISPR to develop potatoes that don’t turn brown. The genes of the sugars responsible for the browning process were turned off.
- Hypoallergenic milk: INTA used gene editing techniques to develop calves that produce milk that did not contain the genes of the proteins that cause allergic reactions.
2015: Resolution 173/2015 establishes a case-by-case consultation process to determine if a gene edited product is within the scope of GMO legislation.
2011: Provisions No. 701 defines a Genetically Modified Organism as any living plant organism that possesses a combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
2004: Resolution 46/2004 requires GMO seeds to be registered in a specific National Registry of Operators of Genetically Modified Plant Organisms. Registration is a prerequisite to request authorization for the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for testing and to obtain authorization for import or export of GM plants.
Environmental advocacy groups, including Argentina sin Tansgenicos (Argentina without transgenics), take the stance that gene editing is just the newest version of transgenic modification, arguing that gene editing has not been tested enough for safety and could lead to unintended side effects, so should be regulated as GMOs.