Getting closer to a regulation change in Europe regarding New Genomic Techniques

“The current GMO legislation, adopted in 2001, is not fit for purpose for New Genomic Techniques (NGTs)”, says the awaited study published by the European Commission (EC), at the request of the EU Council. The document prompted the EC to announce the start of a “wide and open consultation process to discuss the design of a new legal framework for these biotechnologies”.

“The study shows that NGTs, which are techniques to alter the genome of an organism, have the potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system as part of the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy”, states the EC in the related press release. “With the safety of consumers and the environment as the guiding principle, now is the moment to have an open dialogue with citizens, Member States and the European Parliament to jointly decide the way forward for the use of these biotechnologies in the EU”, emphasizes Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

The study identifies limitations to the capacity of legislation to keep pace with scientific developments, causing implementation challenges and legal uncertainties, which need to be addressed. It recognizes it may not be justified to apply different levels of regulatory oversight to similar products with similar levels of risk, as is the case for plants conventionally bred and obtained from certain NGTs.

“Future policy action would need to address the knowledge gaps and limitations identified in this study”. Furthermore, “importantly, more effort should be made to inform and engage with the public on NGTs and assess their views”, admits the EC.

Entitled ‘Study on the status of new genomic techniques under Union law and in light of the Court of Justice ruling in Case C-528/16’, the report examines the status of NGTs “taking into account the state of the art knowledge and the views of the EU countries and stakeholders”. The Council of the European Union asked for this study, regarding the status of new genomic techniques under Union Law (Directive 2001/18/ECRegulation (EC) 1829/2003Directive 2009/41/EC and Regulation (EC) 1830/2003), in light of the Court of Justice’s judgment in Case C-528/16.

Image by Congerdesign, from Pixabay

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