Initiative seeks rules update on new plant breeding techniques
The European Court of Justice has established that organisms obtained through new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs) are genetically modified organisms as defined in Directive 2001/18/EC.
This law, despite the great scientific progress on plant breeding, has not been updated in 20 years. The decision results in an implicit ban of the cultivation of crops developed with NPBTs, causing a disadvantage for research and the European agriculture.
NPBTs: legitimate tools for sustainable agricultural practices
NPBTs are valuable tools for breeding more resilient crops with less resources and within less time: a much-needed advancement that could make EU agriculture more competitive and sustainable in current times of climate change, changing consumer demands and potential food insecurity.
Scientific progress movement
In response, we, an international group of students pursuing degrees in life sciences and dissatisfied with the outcome of the court ruling, have submitted a legal proposal outlining an update of the Directive. We have started a European citizens’ initiative under the name of “Grow Scientific Progress: Crops Matter!”, which was registered on 25 July 2019. The initiative advocates for responsible innovation, sustainability and safety when it comes to the use of NPBTs.
A proposal based on science and democracy
Our proposal proposes a combination of several legislative possibilities, and advocates for a clear distinction between organisms obtained through new mutagenesis techniques and those from conventional GMOs. These two types of organisms are fundamentally different and the techniques used to obtain them are technically distinct.
More specifically, we propose to focus on the final product rather than the technique itself. In this way safety is ensured while the valuable benefits of new techniques are not lost due to illogical regulatory hurdles.
The overall essence of our proposal is that NPBTs should be allowed in cases where they produce crops that cannot be distinguished from crops that could have resulted from traditional breeding methods.
Our ultimate goal is to generate a democratic debate around NPBTs as well as represent citizens who are calling for responsible scientific progress in the European Union.
We are currently campaigning to reach a broad audience and get no less than one million signatures to shape a future sustainable EU agriculture.
Support our initiative here, because crops matter!
Contributor: Lavinia Scudiero
Contributor’s background: Lavinia Scudiero is an Italian member of the European citizens’ initiative “Grow Scientific Progress”. A graduate in veterinary medicine, she is pursuing a Master’s in food safety with a specialisation in food Law and regulatory affairs at Wageningen University and Research. She is currently working on food security, animal health and sustainable farming policies.
Grow Scientific Progress: Crops Matter!
Image copyright: Lavinia Scudiero