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Crop Biotech Update

All European Academies Call for Harmonization of the EU Legislation on Genome Editing

November 4, 2020

The European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) released the report Genome Editing for Crop Improvement which presents scientific evidence and actions that can be taken to harmonize the EU legislation on genome editing. The report is based on the discussion of scientific experts, policymakers, and civil society groups during the public symposium held in Brussels, Belgium in November 2019.

"Widening public discourse on innovation in genome-editing for crop improvement is a key responsibility of the scientific community, including academies across Europe. While these new techniques offer exciting opportunities, it remains vital to see the bigger picture and to also consider public perceptions and cultural differences. This report summarizes these diverse strands of research and aims to provide a comprehensive overview to European policymakers and the public," said Prof. Antonio Loprieno, President of ALLEA.

The highlights of the report include the following:

  • EU legislation must look at the characteristics of the plant, not the tools used to develop it, to determine its regulatory status.
  • Targeted genome editing without the introduction of transgenes does not present any other health or environmental risks than plants obtained through conventional breeding strategies.
  • Continued legislative and policy restrictions may hamper the selection of more productive, diverse, and climate-resilient crops with a reduced environmental footprint.
  • The current length and cost of the commercialization make it (except for major industrial players) hardly possible to introduce plants developed with new biotechnological breeding techniques into the market.
  • These new technologies may contribute to a reduction in the environmental footprint of agriculture.
  • Science communication is vital in the decision-making processes for introducing genome-edited products into the market, ensuring that the implications of market introduction are accurately communicated.

Download the report from ALLEA.

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