Support for crop gene editing in UK, Europe grows as legislators aim to expand sustainable farming

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Asked about the potential for biotech and gene editing in the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F), the EU’s new flagship food policy, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EURACTIV that the bloc needs to develop innovative ways to cope with its dependency on pesticides.

“However, innovative technologies must always be safe for consumers and the environment and bring a clear added value to society as a whole,” she added.

The issue heated up after a 2018 European Court of Justice ruled that organisms obtained by gene-editing are GMOs and should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive.

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Some mainstream parties have expressed support for these new tools.

Socialist MEP Paolo De Castro hinted that Europe has reached a deadlock considering that the executive is not coming up with a new regulation to differentiate gene editing from GMOs.

Related article:  'CRISPR babies' prompt review of international gene-editing guidelines: They 'were not clear enough'

“What I am telling Frans Timmermans – the member of the College coordinating the F2F – is that farmers do not enjoy using chemicals, but they are forced to do so to fight diseases […] What kind of tools do we provide them to use other forms?” he wondered.

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As Europe is wading through this discussion …. debate in the UK over the use of gene-editing technology is heating up with the introduction of an amendment into the UK agriculture bill which would offer Britain’s scientists and farmers access to new gene-editing technologies.

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