May. 31, 2019
European Ministers are considering updating EU rules on genetic modification (GM) after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled gene editing must be governed by GM regulations.
Gene editing speeds up traditional breeding processes, allowing insect- or disease-resistant varieties of crops of breeds of animals to be developed quickly by replacing one DNA sequence with another.
Unlike GM, no foreign DNA is inserted into a gene-edited organism, which is why the rules surrounding gene editing had been unclear until the ECJ ruling which was handed down in July last year.
The reaction to the ECJ’s decision was swift, with the scientific community and other countries, including the US, branding it ‘disappointing’ and a ‘setback’.
But now Mark Buckingham, chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council and corporate engagement lead for the UK and Ireland at Bayer, has suggested EU Ministers are considering changing GM regulations to ensure they are ‘future-proofed’.
Speaking during Farmers Guardian’s latest Ploughing Through Brexit podcast, he said: “There was a positive European Council meeting of Agriculture Ministers from around Europe a couple of weeks ago, where they recognised the decision by the ECJ was scientifically unjustified and would mean less research and less investment here in Europe.
“They are not disagreeing with the ECJ ruling, they are saying it suggests they need to look again at the GM legislation and future-proof it, so as science and research brings up new opportunities and new ways of doing plant breeding and potentially new tools for farmers, the regulations should be flexible enough to allow those to come forward rather than blocking them in the way the current regulations have blocked GM.”
Mr Buckingham went on to say the right arguments are taking place, but it was ‘much too soon to tell’ whether this would translate into better policy.