The new ALLEA report “Genome Editing for Crop Improvement” presents the state of the art of scientific evidence in the field and explores paths to harmonise EU legislation with recent scientific developments, while particularly considering relevant ethical and societal considerations.
Key takeaways from the report:
- European legislation should follow the features of the plant, rather than the technique used to generate it, to determine its regulatory status.
- Targeted genome edits, which do not add foreign DNA, do not present any other health or environmental danger than plants obtained through classical breeding techniques, and are as safe or dangerous as the latter.
- Continued legislative and policy restrictions may hamper the selection of more productive, diverse, and climate-resilient crops with a reduced environmental footprint.
- The length and cost of the authorisation process makes it, except for major industrial players, hardly possible to bring into culture and commercialise plants developed with new biotechnological breeding techniques.
- To enhance sustainability and to reduce the usage of chemicals, access is needed to the most advanced technologies enabling the improvement of existing varietal heritage and increasing the ability to respond to new challenges of changing environments. These new technologies may contribute to a reduction of the environmental footprint of agriculture.