France has challenged the EU’s strict rules on gene editing.

The French ministry of agriculture has said it believes crops developed using gene-editing techniques are different to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and opposes a European Union court decision to put them under GMO regulations.

“This technology allows much quicker development of a variety that could have emerged naturally at some point, and that is a very good thing,” said French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie, as he called for gene editing not to be regulated like GMOs.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that mutagenesis, which uses new breeding techniques to edit targeted genes of the same species, falls under the same rules which apply to GMOs that incorporate DNA from a different species.

The French Association of Plant Biotechnologies (AFBV), which brings together hundreds of researchers and experts in the field of green biotechnology, has backed the French minister’s comments.

AFBV stressed that the potential of gene-editing innovation has been blocked by obsolete European regulations which prohibit the use of novel biotechnologies, while many competitors in world markets have access to the technology.