GMO news related to the European Union

25.10.2023 |

Genetic Technologies in Food and Farming – A Manifesto for the Next Government

Genetically engineered organisms in food and farming are regulated, first and foremost, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Whatever subsequent legislation has appeared over the years, this is their appropriate context.

In recent years the UK government has sought to recontextualise genetic technologies in the narrowest possible terms, as a science and innovation issue. The result was the 2023 Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act – a highly contested piece of legislation which removes all regulatory control from genetically modified gene-edited organisms in England and imposes them on the whole of the UK market, unlabelled, unmonitored and untraceable.

19.10.2023 |

New GM plants: EU Commission has lost science and safety from sight

Press release 19 October 2023

The European Commission’s proposal to exempt most ‘new’ genetically modified (GM) plants from regulation lacks scientific basis, scientists of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) point out. The proposal will expose citizens and the environment to potentially unsafe food, feed and plants without informing the citizens. It amounts to a shameful attack on the Precautionary Principle (PP). New GM plants must remain regulated by the existing EU legislation, which has proven to serve its purpose well.

19.10.2023 |

Draft rapporteur’s report on New Genomic Techniques “an affront”

The draft report of the rapporteur of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety is completely unacceptable, says ENGA (the European Non-GMO Industry Association), given its removal of the already threadbare nods to transparency for EU citizens in the European Commission’s proposal on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs).

The EP rapporteur’s draft report removes the only transparency requirement proposed by the European Commission for category 1 NGTs (about 94% of all New GMOs): the need to label seeds as NGTs. This means that the whole food production chain, starting with breeders and farmers, as well as food and feed processors, retailers and consumers, will be kept in the dark about New GMOs on the EU market.

19.10.2023 |

European Parliament should uphold ban for all NGTs in organic in rapporteur’s report

BRUSSELS, 19 OCTOBER 2023 – IFOAM Organics Europe, the voice for organic food and farming in Europe, is strongly against the changes concerning organic in the rapporteur’s draft report on New Genetic Techniques (NGTs). Crucially, the responsible rapporteur in the ENVI committee proposed to remove the ban of Category 1 NGTs in organic (Article 5(2)). Furthermore, in the draft report, important seed labelling provisions (Article 10) are deleted, which would have been a starting point for transparency at the breeding level.

In June 2023, an overwhelming majority of the European organic movement re-affirmed that the organic production process should remain free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). As the European Commission’s proposal reflects, the use of gene editing technologies is not aligned with the principles of organic agriculture. Using NGTs in food production can lead to unintended effects, has potential risks, and conflicts with the precautionary principle. Organic producers also want and must fulfil consumers’ expectations that no old or new GMOs are used in the organic production process.

13.10.2023 |

Commission proposal on new genomic techniques is a step backward for biosafety, freedom of choice and consumers’ information

On 5 July, the European Commission published its proposal on plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques (NGTs). As the European organic movement, we consider this proposal misguided, dangerous for European seed autonomy, and a distraction from the agroecological solutions needed to move agriculture towards sustainability.

21.09.2023 |

New brand of GMOs would escape safety testing under EU Commission plan – briefing

Brussels, September 2023 – On 5 July 2023, the European Commission released a plan to scrap most safety rules governing the production and sale of a new brand of genetically modified (GM) plants produced with new genomic techniques, or NGTs. If adopted, the legislative proposal would seriously weaken or entirely remove safety checks and labelling requirements, based on unproven claims by biotech companies.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) produced with these new techniques are currently governed by existing EU legislation, which includes safety measures, such as an evaluation of risks to human health and the environment, monitoring for possible adverse effects after release into the environment and the food chain, and labelling (if GM products are intended to be sold directly on the EU market).

31.08.2023 |

New genetic engineering: EU Commission proposal for new regulation endangers nature, the environment and our future livelihoods

In July 2023, the EU Commission presented a proposal for the future regulation of plants whose genome has been altered with new genomic techniques (NGTs), e. g. with CRISPR/Cas gene scissors. The Commission appears intent on abandoning the basic principle of current EU legislation, i. e. that all organisms obtained through genetic engineering processes must undergo risk assessment. The EU commission proposal suggests creating a new ‘Category 1’ for the majority of NGT plants – these would then only need to be registered but not undergo in-depth risk assessment. In legal terms, the NGT plants of Category 1 would then be equal to conventionallybred plants, i. e. deregulated, even if they are biologically different. Under the new regulatory framework, neither the intended traits of the NGT plants nor the unintended genetic changes brought about by NGT processes would need to undergo risk assessment. The Commission also proposes abandoning its previous requirements in regard to methods of detection and labelling.

22.08.2023 |

New GMOs: Old claims and false promises

Briefing paper – Proposal on new genomic techniques

Under the current EU legislative framework, all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are subject to mandatory risk assessment, traceability, and labelling. These requirements guarantee freedom of choice for farmers, breeders, and consumers, while protecting our environment and health in line with the precautionary principle.

For more than a decade, new GMOs, produced using new GM techniques (also called new genomic techniques, NGTs), were developed. The agricultural biotech industry, as well as seed companies and international trade partners, are pushing to exempt GM products obtained by these techniques from the current GMO regulations. They claim these techniques are the solution to ensure food security and achieve sustainability in food and farming.

07.07.2023 |

New Genetic Engineering – Small Cause, Big Effect

The EU Commission is presenting a new narrative about GM, the basic concepts of which were first developed over 20 years ago by scientists at Wageningen University

Here's an excellent article about the European Commission's GMO deregulation proposal, by the journalist, former MEP, and expert on GMOs Benedikt Haerlin. He has been around long enough to have witnessed the failed promises of the first generation of GM crops in the 1990s and early 2000s.

05.07.2023 |

GMO deregulation disregards safety and consumer rights

Nature too is at risk

The Commission has published its proposal to weaken regulations around new GMOs and its answers to some FAQs on the topic.

Below are the responses of Friends of the Earth Europe (1) and Greenpeace (2).

1. The EU Commission’s new GMOs proposal sacrifices consumers’ rights and puts nature at risk

2. GMO deregulation disregards safety and consumer rights, Greenpeace