Most gene editing techniques should not come under the Europe Union’s strict regulatory regime for genetically modified organisms, according to a preliminary legal opinion.
The opinion by an “advocate general” of the European Court of Justice isn’t a binding legal decision, but it’s considered highly persuasive for the panel of judges who will issue a ruling on the matter this summer.
Advocates of biotechnology see the opinion as an early step in the right direction regarding Europe’s gene editing policy, but critics say it’s unlikely to sway wary European consumers.
For U.S. agriculture, Europe’s approach to gene editing is significant because the technology is expected to become more widely commercialized among American farmers in coming years.
Already, the USDA has cleared numerous gene-edited crops for the market without subjecting them to the environmental review required under the deregulatory process for GMOs.
Apart from affecting exports of such crops to the European Union, the continent’s biotech policies have a “huge impact” on other global regions, particularly in the developing world, said Mary Boote, CEO of the Global Farmer Network, which supports gene editing.
“Its importance is felt well beyond the borders of Europe,” Boote said.
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