The European Commission has announced that it will review the European Union’s rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), potentially paving the way for easing restrictions on the use of gene-editing technology in the agricultural sector .
A report commission said the use of gene-editing technology, which targets specific genes to promote or suppress certain traits, could contribute to future sustainable food production.
The EU has a responsibility to protect the rights of farmers to choose what they plant and the rights of people to choose what they eat, and to protect the environment and biodiversity from the potential damage caused by new GMOs.
“The study that we [published] concludes that new genomic techniques can promote the sustainability of agricultural production, in line with the goals of our farm-to-fork strategy, ”said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
“With consumer and environmental safety as a guiding principle, the time has come to have an open dialogue with citizens, Member States and the European Parliament to jointly decide on the way forward for the use of these biotechnologies. in the EU, ”she added. .
See also: Climate change is altering the nutrient profiles of global crops
Julia Kloeckner, Germany’s Agriculture Minister, welcomed the committee’s findings, calling for the decision to address a new legal framework around genetically modified crops as a In addition to this, you need to know more about it.“late modernization ”, which would help farmers.
However, in the report, the committee also said that there were concerns about the safety of genetically modified crops that should be addressed as well as questions about their environmental impact and how they should be labeled.
GMOs, which involve the transfer of a gene from one organism to another to confer the desired trait, are rarely used in the EU due to skepticism about their environmental impacts.
Officials from France, which is the EU’s largest producer of GM crops, have previously said they support treating gene-modified techniques differently from GMOs.
However, critics of this idea argue that the basic problems are the same for genetically modified crops and GMOs.
“The EU has a responsibility to protect the rights of farmers to choose what they plant and the rights of people to choose what they eat, and to protect the environment and biodiversity from the potential damage of new GMOs, ”said Kevin Stairs, Greenpeace EU Policy Advisor on GMOs.
“The European Commission and national governments must respect the precautionary principle and the decision of the European Court of Justice, ”he added. In addition to this, you need to know more about it.“GMOs under any other name remain GMOs and must be treated as such by law.
While olive oil is largely unaffected by the GMO debate, with little appetite for experimentation in the industry, gene editing could reopen an old debate.
In the summer of 2012, a research initiative by the University of Tuscia was abruptly halted. The problem was the experimentation of the Italian central university with GMO olive trees.
The researchers were trying to create a tree that was resistant to common fungal and bacterial infections. However, anti-GMO organizations said the project violated EU law and was shut down before any conclusions could be drawn. All the trees were destroyed.
About a year later, Xylella fastidiosa began to spread to the southern region of Puglia, Italy’s most productive olive oil-producing region, and hasn’t stopped since. The new debate in Brussels may inspire some to view gene editing as a solution to the region’s persistent problem.
Steve Savage, a plant pathologist and agricultural consultant in California, previously suggested that there may be a genetic engineering solution to stop the spread of Xylella fastidiosa bacteria in California vineyards.
“Modern approaches to genetic engineering could be very logical ways to protect these particular crops, ”he said.
Daniel Dawson contributed to this report.