European Commission Publishes Study on New Genomic Techniques

  • On May 5, 2021

On April 29, the European Commission published the eagerly anticipated study regarding the status of New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), such as gene editing, under current EU GMO directives. The study was conducted at the request of the Council of European Union in view of the July 2018 Court of Justice judgement on New Breeding Techniques. The study affirmed that products of NGTs are considered GMOs and therefore would be subjected to the provision of the EU GMO legislation. On the positive side, the study recognizes that the EU GMO legislation if not fit for this purpose, and is an impediment to EU reaping any benefits from new and evolving breeding methods. Additional, the study acknowledges that NGTs and biotechnology could play an important role in sustainability goals, including furthering the “farm to fork” strategy which seeks to ensure a “fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system.”

The next step is for the European Commission (EC) to engage in board communication in sharing the study’s findings, to initiate to-be-determined policy action for plants, and to publish an accompanying impact assessment. Because the state of the science has advanced since 2018, the terminology “New Breeding Techniques” has been replaced by “New Genomic Techniques” (NGT). NGT is defined for the purpose of the EC study as “techniques that are capable of altering the genetic material of an organism and that have emerged or have been mainly developed since 2001,” the year the EU GMO derivative came into force.

The full set of EC documents as well as the study are available here.