Viewpoint: Rush to develop COVID vaccine highlights failure of Europe’s GM crop regulations

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In a recent article of mine published in the journal, Global Food Security, I highlight the EU’s reluctance to move away from its precaution-based regulatory system. Their reluctance to accept science is affecting not only in terms of the development of innovative crop varieties that will be better equipped to adapt to changing climates but also their ability to develop Covid-19 vaccines and have them approved.

[Editor’s note: Stuart Smyth is an agricultural  economist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.]

Gene editing is a new breeding technique that changes specific genes by a precise level and doesn’t involve inserting DNA from another plant or species. Yet, the EU has decided to regulate gene editing as equivalent to breeding technologies that do insert DNA from other plants and species.

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This is where the EU has a real problem …. [V]irtually all of the Covid-19 vaccines being developed in the EU are based on technologies that will make them GM products. It presently takes the EU regulatory system nearly 5 years to make an approval decision just to allow a GM variety to be imported for use as animal feed.

Related article:  GMO Bt corn has 'no impact' on health of soil animals, two-year study finds

It is very doubtful the EU public would be willing to wait until 2025 to have access to a Covid-19 vaccine. In an admission that the EU regulatory system is a failure, the European Parliament announced it would ‘derogate’ some of the regulatory requirements that would be required of gene-edited developed Covid-19 vaccines ….

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