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Leaked proposals suggest EU may assess CRISPR gene editing to ‘improve sustainability’ of food production

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

More leaked drafts of the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy reveal how the [European] Commission’s plan to make EU food production greener and healthier is taking shape. There are far fewer policy proposals in these two draft action plans, both dated January 13, suggesting the plan has undergone some serious redrafting by Commission wonks since an earlier, more wide-ranging document, dated January 6, floated 95 policies.

Two diplomats who attended a Commission-led conference on the F2F [the last week of January] said the Commission had announced March 31 as the publication date for a so-called communication on the strategy. That means the next two months will be packed full of frenzied debates, consultations and policy changes on the Farm to Fork ….

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There is also more positive language on controversial gene-editing techniques, which now highlights “their potential to improve sustainability along the food chain.” In the other, annotated draft, Commission officials comment that they “fully agree that the use of these new breeding techniques involves certain risks; however, we think that this aspect is already covered by the word ‘potential.’”

[Editor’s note: One of the draft proposals states that the EU may “assess the status of new genomic techniques under [European] Union law, including their potential to improve sustainability along the food chain, particularly in primary production and food processing. Subsequently, and if appropriate, follow up by submitting a proposal ….”]

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