Publication date: 25/07/2019
One year ago today, the ECJ unfortunately took a very tough stand on genome editing with its strict legal decision. The European scientific community, representing 126 plant research institutes across Europe, now urges policy makers to reconsider their verdict. In the past year, research has only emphasized the potential of genome editing. As a result, more and more countries across the world are choosing for a rational legislative framework that allows the judicious use of genome editing techniques. Europe cannot stay behind.
European agriculture can make considerable contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Precision breeding methods like genome editing with CRISPR are innovative tools that have the potential to help reach these goals in a faster and more efficient way.
However, the current interpretation of the European legislation prevents the use of genome editing for sustainable agriculture and food production in the EU. This will make it substantially more difficult for Europe to face the unprecedented challenges we are all facing. A rising, more affluent world population, diminishing biodiversity, and increasing temperature on earth are already making their effects felt.
A small revision of the European legislation concerning genome editing will harmonize it with the legal framework in other nations and enable European scientists, breeders, farmers and producers to include genome editing as one of their tools to meet the future global challenges of sustainable development and mitigate their effects.
The European scientific community has written an open statement to urge the European political institutions including the European Council, the new European Parliament and the upcoming European Commission, to take appropriate legal action. This will enable European scientists and breeders to apply genome editing for sustainable agriculture and food. The ability to use genome editing is crucial for the welfare and food security of European citizens.