Crop Biotech Update

European Scientists Call For Better Legislation on Genome-Edited Crops

November 3, 2021

A report released by All European Academies (ALLEA) highlights the latest scientific evidence and safety of genome-edited crops as well as their potential to help alleviate agricultural challenges. Despite these findings, scientists in Europe are still concerned that legislation by the European Union will impede research, causing the continent to fall behind the other parts of the world where regulations are more open to the new technology.

The report is a summary of the discussions made in the public symposium Genome Editing for Crop Improvement, held in Brussels in November 2019 and attended by scientific experts, policy makers, civil society organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to assess and discuss the impact of the EU ruling on present research and development in genome editing for plant breeding. Among the topics included in the report are the economic and social implications of genome editing for crop improvement, and the legal challenges in readdressing the EU court decision of 2018 by legislative means.

The highlights of the report include the following:

  • European legislation should be more product-oriented rather than process-oriented to determine its regulatory status.
  • Targeted genome edits do not present additional danger to the health nor environment and are as safe or dangerous as plants obtained through classical breeding.
  • Continued legislative and policy restrictions may hamper the selection of more adaptive and resilient crops with a reduced environmental footprint.
  • The cost and length of research while complying to such regulations hinder small and medium research companies in commercializing their products developed through modern biotech breeding techniques.
  • Advanced technologies enable the improvement of existing crop varieties to become more resilient to changing environments, as well as contribute to the reduction of environmental footprints in agriculture.
  • Stakeholder participation is important in the policy-making process for genome editing and should include monitoring of public attitudes, information deficits, and addressing concerns about specific applications of genome editing.

Download and read the full report by ALLEA to learn more.

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