New gene editing technology should be exempt from EU regulations which govern genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to the European Court of Justice Advocate General Michal Bobek.
Bobek argues that new forms of gene editing, known as New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs), should be considered exempt from EU regulations governing GMOs because it doesn’t involve foreign plant bodies being inserted into the genetic sequence.
CRISPR-Cas is an example of one such genetic engineering technique, which facilitates crop breeding by making cuts at specific locations within the plant genome without introducing foreign genes.
The subsequent repair of these cuts by the plants’ endogenous repair mechanisms then introduce precise changes.
There are conflicting opinions on GMOs in Europe, with some farmers arguing that there is a lack of consumer knowledge on the safety of GMO crops and their potential in the European farming sector.
There has been consistent resistance from some member states on the renewal of pesticides such as glyphosate, and many farmers argue that the introduction of pest-resistant GM crops would answer the pesticide issue.
In the EU, GMO crops are classed as ‘products’ and in principle they enjoy free movement around all 28 member states, but countries currently resist and contest their movement and growth mainly due to consumer concerns.