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Assessment of the European Court of Justice ruling on gene editing for crop improvement

Anyone involved in the field of agriculture and biotechnology would have been unable to ignore the ECJ ruling on case C-528/16 in July 2018. The ruling confirmed that all plants obtained by any form of mutagenesis are GMOs as defined by Directive (EC) no. 2001/18 and rejected an annulment of mutagenesis exemption (Annex IB of Directive 2001/18. With significant ramifications across the industry, the ECJ stance on gene edited crops and GMOs was a major focus of the 7th Plant Genomics & Gene Editing Congress: Europe.

Despite being a long established technique in plant breeding with an excellent safety record, EU GM crop cultivation represents 0.13% of the global total. The EU imports a significant amount of GM crops such as soybeans, maize, cotton and oilseed rape, putting European farmers in a position of heavy competition with imported GM version of these crops.

In this presentation, Nigel Halford discusses how the EU Directive (EC) no. 2001/18 defines a GMO as an organism in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. As he discusses, this is a definition which proves to be too broad to be usefully applied in the regulation of gene editing crops.

The impact on innovation is significant, with no biotech companies investing in developing GM crops specifically for the European market, and thus European farmers are significantly disadvantaged in the competitive global market. With Europe not able to afford missing out on another crop biotech revolution, Nigel’s presentation is a clear and timely call to work towards science driven regulation regarding gene edited crops and GMOs. Watch the presentation here.

Assessment of the European Court of Justice ruling on gene editing for crop improvements
Watch Nigel Halford’s presentation on the European Court of Justice ruling on gene editing for crop improvements, and Europe’s first and possibly last field trial of gene-edited plants.

View the presentation

The Plant Genomics and Gene Editing Congress: USA agenda has new streams dedicated to plant phenotyping & bioinformatics will ensure that you are up-to-date with these rapidly developing areas. Click here to view the agenda.

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