EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 7 Campaign material for Embracing the Power of Nature. French Court case C-528/16. Nevertheless, even after this court ruling we will probably still face open questions that need inter- pretation either by member states or by Commission. ES: IN YOUR VIEW, SHOULD THE PRODUCTS OF SUCH TECHNIQUES BE ALLOWED ON THE MARKET AND UNDER WHICH CONDITIONS? PJ: To be clear, even if products would be regulated under GMO law, they would in principle be allowed on the market after approval. But in fact, of course, an undifferentiated treat- ment of plants resulting from the latest breeding methods under GM-regulation would for Europe more or less signify the end of a development of these plants at least for most of the breed- ing companies since they cannot afford the high financial and regulatory hurdles associated with a premarket approval under GMO-legislation. We as seed sector think that it needs a differentiated view on the plants resulting from the latest breeding methods. If these plants could also have been produced through earlier breeding methods or by natural processes without human intervention, we do not see a need for additional regulatory oversight like for classi- cal GMOs. These plants should from our point of view be marketed under the regulatory framework of conventional plant varieties. ES: WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT FOR THE EU SEED TRADE OF REGULATING THESE NEW TECHNIQUES IN THE SAME WAY AS GMOS? PJ: As indicated in the previous answer, if these plants would be regulated as GMOs, we expect that at least for the EU seed market and with that also for the farmers and seed trade within Europe, they would most probably not play a role. This means that Europe’s farmers and traders will not have access to the respective plant varieties and products which will be a com- petitive disadvantage since in other parts of the world these products will probably not be regulated as GMOs as we already see in North America and parts of South America. ES: SOME GROUPS IN SOCIETY SEEM INCREASINGLY RELUCTANT TO EMBRACE NEW INNOVATIONS, AND SOME EVEN START SPREADING MISINFORMATION. WHAT IS DRIVING THAT AND HOW CAN WE CHANGE THAT? PJ: Indeed, the same groups that actively campaign against GMOs also started to campaign against the latest breeding meth- ods. They call them “hidden” GMOs because most of the plants resulting from these methods are not distinguishable from con- ventionally bred plants. With this terminology, they try to scare the public, because in the wider public the term “hidden” is per- ceived as something weird or scary, something where industry is seen as trying to hide things. By associating the latest breeding methods with GMOs, NGOs try to create an association with general concerns of parts of the wider public about the environ- mental impact of the so called “industrial agriculture” as well as concentration processes in the seed sector. The messages are framed as either “black or white” without any “shades of grey”. Up until today, there is no serious study showing any envi- ronmental or public health hazard for GMOs, but still there is that heavy regulatory framework that prevents a high percent- age of the players in our diverse seed sector from adopting the technology. Also, the diversity of products and crops is very lim- ited due to the high regulatory costs that economically justify product developments for the largest crops and a very few traits only. But such a deeper insight and analysis requires an interest and willingness to discover the “shades of grey” which is often difficult, and here NGO’s come into the play with their “black and white” messages that are easy to understand and where they can make a living from. Also, our sector and the benefits plant breeding innova- tions provide and always have provided to society are mainly unknown. Therefore, we started our new communication efforts to at least try to get some more differentiation and “the shades of grey” as well as positive messages across to a wider interested public and political stakeholder. ES: ESA HAS RECENTLY STARTED THE CAMPAIGN ‘EMBRACING THE POWER OF NATURE’. WHY WAS THIS NECESSARY AND WHAT IS THE MAIN MESSAGE OF THE CAMPAIGN? PJ: As I mentioned, the benefits plant breeding innovations pro- vide to society are widely unknown. Therefore, we started the campaign, which is not about the latest innovations only, but