European Court of Justice to Rule on Gene-Edited Crops

Reuters writer Ben Hirschler reported on Friday that, “Gene editing in agriculture takes center stage next Wednesday when Europe’s highest court rules in a case that could determine the fate of the technology that is already making waves in the field of medicine.

“The European Union has long restricted the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) widely adopted around the world, but there is legal uncertainty as to whether modern gene editing of crops should fall under the same strict GMO rules.

“The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule whether the use of genetic mutation, or mutagenesis, which is now exempt from GMO rules, should differentiate between techniques that have been used for decades and the new gene-editing technology.”

Friday’s article pointed out that, “The biotech industry argues that much of gene editing is effectively little different to the mutagenesis that occurs naturally or is induced by radiation – a standard plant breeding method since the 1950s.

“But environmentalists, anti-GM groups and farmers concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of all genetically engineered products fear that allowing gene editing would usher in a new era of ‘GMO 2.0’ via the backdoor.”

“The case before the ECJ was brought by a group of French agricultural associations that want the existing EU exemption for plant varieties obtained via mutagenesis to be restricted to long-standing conventional techniques,” the Reuters article said.

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