Field trials of plants derived from new genetic engineering – development in Europe

Status: 7 May 2024

Testbiotech is providing up-to-date information on field trials in Europe with plants derived from New Genetic Engineering (New GE, genome editing). The project gives an overview of all projects, including trials in the UK since its withdrawal from the EU. The aim is to improve transparency about genetic engineering applications and to enable an informed social debate.

Testbiotech research shows that about 30 field trials with New GE plants have been authorised in the EU since 2016. In all cases to date, the plants were developed using CRISPR/Cas gene scissors. Most of the applications filed for field trials were for CRISPR potatoes and maize, but there have also been experiments with other plant species, such as poplar, tobacco or broccoli. Field trials with NGT plants have so far only been carried out in the UK, Spain, Sweden and Belgium.

Many field trials with New GE plants have been carried out in the UK since Brexit, as the UK government has in the meanwhile adopted a policy of deregulation for NGTs plants in 2023. This has a knock-on effect for field trials: risk assessment and transparency have been severely restricted and the number of field experiments has increased.

Field trials are experimental releases of genetically engineered organisms under controlled conditions. In the EU, such experiments must be officially applied for before releases take place and the authorities of the respective member states have to conduct a risk assessment.

Further information:

Related topics: 

New genetic engineering and ‘genome editing’

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