The leading organic representative body in the EU has called on policymakers to ensure that strict labelling and traceability rules accompany any moves to allow gene-edited crops to be grown in the EU.

A resolution seeking tight controls on crops bred using new genomic techniques (NGTs) was passed last week by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Europe.

The group is also pushing for NGTs' exclusion from the organic sector to “protect GMO-free and organic production from contamination”.

Its resolution comes just weeks before the European Commission is expected to unveil its proposals on NGTs, which are expected to state that NGT crops should be treated the same way conventional ones are.

Long-term thinking

“To make our food systems truly sustainable, we need to transition away from input-intensive, short-term fixes, which include the promotion of specific technologies with unproven benefits and potential, unintended effects and risks,” IFOAM’s Europe president, Jan Plagge, said.

“Genetic engineering, with its currently still empty sustainability promises and narrow focus on specific genes or traits, ignores the complexity of interactions in a given agroecosystem," he said.

Plagge maintains that the organic sector looks to nature when innovation is needed.

“To safeguard this holistic approach to agronomic innovation, EU legislation must protect GMO-free and organic production from contamination, through mandatory traceability all along the production chain and consumers' labelling, which are the only ways to envisage a real coexistence.”

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