24 Jul 2020 · DBG · Politics

Open Statement on the Regulation of Genome Edited Plants and Crops

The EU and New Zealand differ from most other countries and their regulations for precision breeding techniques (see Schmidt, Belisle, Frommer (2020), EMBO Rep 2020, e50680, https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.202050680)

132 European research institutes and science associations – with DBG being one of them - strongly recommend to the European Council, European Parliament and the European Commission to revise the existing directive for precision breeding, also known as genome editing. This is not only important for recovery from the COVID-19 crisis but also since genome-editing offers many solutions for a fast, relatively simple and much more directed way to create resilience to climate change compared to previous breeding techniques. Moreover the breeding of plants that are less dependent on fertilizers and pesticides is more efficient. Use of these methods preserves natural resources of our planet and supports to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations as well as the Green Deal of the EU. The European Sustainable Agriculture through Genome Editing (EU-SAGE) Network, under which the institutions named above are unified, recommends the European Commission to endorse this message for the benefit and welfare of all EU citizens and to adapt the current regulations to use genome-editing for crop and plant breeding to recent scientific results. In its Open Statement the EU-SAGE network cites scientific studies that demonstrate the successful creation of genome-edited plants with resilience to climate change and resistance against pests and diseases and therefore higher yields and revenues. Other studies have proven to reduce the dependency on pesticides by improving resistance against diseases in rice, wine, wheat, and grapefruit. In addition precision breeding accelerates the introduction of healthy traits into vegetables and fruits, as studies have shown.

Read EU-SAGE's whole open statement (pdf)