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09.07.2021 |

New GE: How to assess the environmental risks?

Scientific publication identifies important cornerstones

9 July 2021 / Experts from environmental authorities in Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland and Switzerland have published a new scientific paper that, for the first time, defines some important initial cornerstones in the environmental risk assessment of plants altered with new genomic techniques (i.e. ‘New GE’ or ‘genome editing’). The authors show that there can be no justification for only risk assessing plants with additionally inserted genes or with extensive genomic changes. Rather, all plants derived from New GE must be subjected to mandatory risk assessment.

In this regard, the authors disagree with the findings set out in a recent EU Commission report, which suggests that only specific categories of New GE plants should be subjected to mandatory risk assessment. The authors of the new publication state: “With a view to the wide range of plant species, GE methods and traits that need to be considered, there is no safety by default for whole groups of GE applications encompassing different individual GE organisms, i.e. without an appropriate ERA prior to the release of GE plants into the environment.”

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