We have submitted a legal proposal for an update of Directive 2001/18/EC in the form of a European Citizens’ Initiative. It was published here on the 25th of July, 2019.
In our proposal, we merge several policy options to update the regulatory system on new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs) in the EU. You can read our proposal here and our guiding principles here.
In particular, we propose a clear distinction of mutagenesis-based NPBTs and techniques resulting in conventional GMOs as these techniques result in dissimilar products.
Furthermore, we demand a more product-based risk assessment of the resulting organisms rather than a technique-based assessment. This is because the risks are, if anything, associated with the product, and not with the technique to obtain the product.
To achieve this, we suggest the establishment of a positive list of safe species-specific traits. This means that products of NPBTs shall require notification rather than authorisation if they include only traits on this positive list as well as no foreign genetic material. Those organisms with novel traits shall continue to be assessed for safety and require authorisation prior to cultivation.
Overall, our changes to the Directive result in lower assessment stringency for products which are indistinguishable from those obtained through traditional breeding. At the same time, the strict risk assessment requirements for products with novel traits are retained.
We believe these much-needed changes will foster more efficient, sustainable and resource-friendly agriculture across the EU and pave the way for more science-based policies.