IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements) has published a position paper on the new genetic engineering techniques. The aim is provide clarity on what techniques are compatible with organic systems. This comes at a crucial time when these new breeding techniques (NBTs) are under consideration by EU lawmakers as to whether they should be treated in the same way as GMOs.
NBTs, such as CRISPR, are developed by scientists to ‘edit’ the genome of a plant. It therefore differs from older systems of genetic engineering which inserted new, foreign genes.
The IFOAM paper states that “New genetic engineering technologies …are not compatible with organic farming and must not be used in organic breeding or organic production.” It goes on to list the specific techniques, and calls for “clear legal definitions to be in place which are regularly updated”.
The paper also states “Products obtained through genetic engineering processes should not be released into the environment.”
IFOAM asks for the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle to be maintained. This means “On-going costs and harms to organic and non-GMO supply chains from contamination by these new techniques … should be borne by the developers and/or the company that puts the product on the market.”
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