We have long been aware of genetically modified crops and the divisiveness that the term generates within the EU in particular. We may never know the true opinions of EU consumers on this issue as the debate is driven by a small number of vested interests. While there was rightly concern at the start as to the food safety and environmental aspects of what was a novel practice over three decades ago, it can hardly be right that the same level of restriction is required today.

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a lecture in UCD entitled The EU Definition of GMOs and New Breeding Techniques. Many new and very precise breeding technologies have been developed since the first transgenic plants but because these manipulate genes they are bound by the same GMO regulations as the techniques that insert foreign genes. The EU is updating its GMO regulations to reflect the new technologies available in plant breeding and these are being referred to as new plant breeding techniques and abbreviated to NBTs for short.