Top EU farm officials back gene editing, call for efforts to assuage concern about ‘unintended impacts’

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Credit: iStock/Zerbor

The European Commission’s top agriculture civil servant said [October 1] he supports controversial gene-editing technologies, but called for more “assurances” from developers to assuage public concerns about potential risks.

The EU’s top court ruled in 2018 that genomic editing should be regulated like GMOs, but an ongoing Commission review of the issue is expected to report back next April.

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“We are — in [DG] Agriculture, certainly — very favorable to take up these innovative techniques, but if you want to have a regulatory framework or [for] politicians to go in this direction, you need to have these kinds of assurances,” Wolfgang Burtscher, the head of DG Agriculture, told a webinar on genome editing.

Related article:  Viewpoint: 'Regulatory creep'—How the FDA's evolving rules hindered the introduction of gene-edited animals

Burtscher said that addressing possible biodiversity risks and unintended impacts of gene-edited plants would be “very important to convince people” of the technology’s merit.

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