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European Commission science advisers say political decision limiting crop gene editing will leave Europe a technological straggler

| | November 15, 2018

Laws in the EU should be changed to allow plants developed through controversial gene-editing techniques to be more easily put on the market, the European Commission’s scientific advisers said [November 13].

In July, the European Court of Justice ruled that such techniques, whereby organisms are obtained by mutagenesis — a breeding technique that edits the plant’s genes — should be subject to the same strict EU laws that apply to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

That interpretation of the law was a major setback for …. scientists working to develop high-tech crops in the EU. It also raised questions over whether CRISPR/Cas9, one of the newest genome-editing tools it is hoped could treat disease in humans, would be caught up in the EU’s GMO laws.

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But a group of senior scientists appointed to advise the Commission said …. that the interpretation of the law could leave Europe straggling behind other regions in the area of developing plant technologies, which many argue are necessary to make plants more resilient to climate change and to feed a growing world population.

“There is danger that unless the EU improves the regulatory environment for products of gene-editing, it will be left behind in this field, which could also diminish EU influence on ongoing debates at the international level,” the report added.

Read full, original article: Commission scientists back reforms to benefit new GMO techniques

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