Discussion regarding the regulatory status of genome-edited crops has focused on precision of editing and on doubts regarding the feasibility of analytical monitoring compliant with existing GMO regulations. Effective detection methods are important, both for regulatory enforcement and traceability in case of biosafety, environmental or socio-economic impacts. Here, we approach the analysis question for the first time in the laboratory and report the successful development of a quantitative PCR detection method for the first commercialized genome-edited crop, a canola with a single base pair edit conferring herbicide tolerance. The method is highly sensitive and specific (quantification limit, 0.05%), compatible with the standards of practice, equipment and expertise typical in GMO laboratories, and readily integrable into their analytical workflows, including use of the matrix approach. The method, validated by an independent laboratory, meets all legal requirements for GMO analytical methods in jurisdictions such as the EU, is consistent with ISO17025 accreditation standards and has been placed in the public domain. Having developed a qPCR method for the most challenging class of genome edits, single-nucleotide variants, this research suggests that qPCR-based method development may be applicable to virtually any genome-edited organism. This advance resolves doubts regarding the feasibility of extending the regulatory approach currently employed for recombinant DNA-based GMOs to genome-edited organisms.
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