The European Sustainable Agriculture through Genome Editing (EU-SAGE) network and its members from 132 European research institutes and associations urge the European Council, European Parliament, and the European Commission to reconsider their stance on genome editing, which is one of the tools needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In an open statement, the EU-SAGE network said that developing new crop varieties need tools that are safe, easy, and fast, and the latest addition to these tools is precision breeding or genome editing.
The use of precision breeding techniques, however, has been halted in Europe on July 25, 2018, due to the ruling of the European Court of Justice which placed all crops developed through this technique under prohibitively strict GMO regulations, even if no foreign DNA was introduced in the crops.
The open statement strongly recommends the following to the European Council, the European Parliament, and the European Commission:
- European scientists advise revising the existing GMO Directive to reflect current scientific knowledge and evidence on genome editing.
- Genome editing offers an increasing range of solutions for a more efficient selection of crops that are climate-resilient, less dependent on fertilizers and pesticides, and help preserve natural resources. The members recommend that the European Commission endorse their message for the benefit and welfare of all EU citizens.
- There is an urgent need for harmonization of the regulatory framework worldwide.
- A narrative for European food production that includes the importance of innovative, more efficient approaches in the whole value chain is necessary.