New GE: Discussions on the risks gaining momentum

EU Commission proposal under fire

25. September 2023

25 September 2023 / The discussion in relation to the risks of new genetic engineering (New GE or new genomic techniques, NGT) in plants is becoming more widely understood: according to a representative opinion poll commissioned by the German consumer organisation, foodwatch, 96 percent of the participants were in favour of NGT plants having to undergo mandatory risk assessment before being brought to market. In addition, a legal analysis prepared for the Green Party in the German parliament, concludes that the current EU Commission proposal to deregulate NGT plants is contrary to EU framework legislation and, in particular, to the precautionary principle.

The EU Commission presented a proposal for the future regulation of plants obtained from new genetic engineering processes in July. According to the proposal, these plants would no longer have to undergo a mandatory risk assessment before releases and marketing were approved – they would only have to be registered. These plants would then be legally equated to conventionally-bred plants, even if their traits were clearly different.

According to a Testbiotech analysis, many of the NGT plants carry risks that are by no means lower than those of transgenic plants: previous genetic engineering involved the transfer of genes across species boundaries to achieve new traits. Now, the new genetic engineering techniques make it possible to change the characteristics of a species to an extent that would be impossible, or at least very unlikely, with conventional breeding, even without the insertion of additional genes. In both cases, the risks for health and environment have to be assessed in detail.

Christoph Then,, Tel + 49 151 54638040

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