European Commission’s Proposal: Easing GMO Regulations

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to review its rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to lift restrictions on certain plants resulting from new genomic techniques (NGT).

The European executive explains that the GMO directive of 2001 is no longer “adapted” to these biotechnologies allowing farmers to have access to more resistant seeds by using less fertilizers or pesticides.

The Court of Justice of the European Union considered, for its part, in 2018, that the 2001 directive did indeed extend to genome modification techniques.

In its proposal presented on Wednesday, the Commission suggests dividing NGTs (or NBTs for “new breeding techniques”) into two categories, exempting from GMO legislation those NGTs giving rise to modifications that may occur naturally or through a process of traditional breeding (mutagenesis, cisgenesis).

All other NGT products would be treated in the same way as GMOs, with risk assessment and application for authorization.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council. Environmentalists believe that these “new GMOs”, which involve genetic modification, should remain subject to current rules.

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