Saturday 15 May 2021
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European Commission clears way for crispr / cas in agriculture

A study by the European Commission says that new crop breeding techniques such as CRISPR / Cas can be good for the environment and greener agriculture.

It is also noted that new gnome techniques - rightly - still fall under the twenty-year-old European laws on genetic side effects, and that these rules need to be adjusted.

The GMO advice presented today in Brussels has long been eagerly anticipated. The European Commission says it now wants to allow the use of new gene-editing methods, and that it will talk to the LNV ministers and the European Parliament about legislative changes.

The EU commissioners had commissioned the study more than two years ago after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled in 2018 that (using crispr technology) the 'cutting out' of genetic elements in agriculture is also a form of gene manipulation, and therefore falls under the current (strict) EU gene laws.

In that judgment, the European Court put the new breeding techniques on a par with conventional genetic engineering. The ruling has been criticized in the agricultural sector in many EU countries because the strict requirements hindered the use of 'harmless' new methods in the EU.

“New breeding techniques can promote the sustainability of agricultural production,” said EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides (Food Safety, Biodiversity) presenting the study. She mainly thinks about disease-resistant varieties and the avoidance of chemical pesticides. CRISPR / Cas is already on the rise in other parts of the world.

It will be a while before the European Commission submits a proposal for the new breeding methods. The proposal is preceded by a stakeholder consultation and an impact assessment. The EU-LNV ministers want to complete the study during their upcoming six-monthly Agriculture Council at the end of May.

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