EU Council to discuss a compromise for the future regulation of NGT plants

21. May 2024

Draft text conflates economic aspects with issues related to health safety and the environment

The EU Member States will try to reach a compromise on the future regulation of plants obtained from new genetic engineering (NGT) at a meeting in Brussels scheduled for tomorrow. The proposal originally drawn up by the EU Commission envisages most NGT plants being brought to the market via fast track procedures without mandatory risk assessment. The Belgian Presidency has now formulated additional articles, which would only allow NGT plants for which no patents had been filed to profit from this new regulation.

Testbiotech emphasizes there are crucial issues that need to be sorted out before further decisions are taken:

(1) The risks associated with NGT plants in regard to health and the environment have nothing to do with patents. There is undeniable evidence of significant risks  associated with the introduction of NGT plants. Furthermore, conflating economic aspects with safety issues contravenes the fundamental principles of the EU.

(2) Labelling, choice and transparency for consumers, farmers and food producers are central to the EU citizens’ and the Parliament’s concerns. As a result, the Parliament voted in favour of food labelling, in contradiction to the Council draft compromise proposal.

(3) Contrary to the text as proposed by the Belgian Presidency, the EU Parliament wants a general prohibition on patents for NGT plants. Furthermore, patents granted on conventionally-bred seeds are known to cause serious problems in regard to access to biodiversity needed for future breeding, which are not addressed in the current text.

Testbiotech demands that these issues are resolved in order to establish future NGT plant regulation that is scientifically based, transparent and sustainable. The open questions are not only relevant to the interests of the broader public: all stakeholders who want to introduce NGT plants (and food derived thereof) into the market need legal certainty.

Testbiotech warns that if safe handling of NGT plants is not guaranteed in the legal framework, their introduction may create massive problems for future generations, including irreversible harm to biodiversity. Further concerns are disturbances of the market for agriculture and food production, the disruption of innovation in plant breeding and damage to the interests of consumers.

Christoph Then,, Tel + 49 151 54638040

Further Information:

Testbiotech Background: The future regulation of NGT plants: Questions that still need to be answered

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