b'BY: MATHIAS POHLCHANGING RULES FOR SEED BREEDING PRODUCTS DESTROYS LEGAL CERTAINTY. BUT ABOVE ALL, IT DESTROYS TRUST.I nnovation is a key component of any reliable policy to tackleHerbicide tolerant crops make crop protection more efficient challenges and paves the way for a sustainable future. Europeand contribute to sustainable agricultural production by allow-has had problems with acknowledging this fact and coulding a more targeted weed control after crop emergence and for even be seen balancing innovation against precaution and sci- difficult weeds that compete with the crop for nutrients, light ence-based decision-making. However, as indicated in the EUand space. Only increased crop yields can balance the ever-rising Commissions Green Deal and its Farm-to-Fork strategy, inno- need for high-quality food without increasing the amount of land vative technologies, which includes biotechnological breedingdedicated to agricultural production. If we want a realistic path approaches, have been flagged as an important pillar. Thus,towards the Farm-to-Fork goals, advanced breeding techniques there is hope that new genomic tools and other technologicaland cultivation tools will have to be applied. A future agricul-solutions will also get a chance to play a role in Europes agri- ture that actively reduces COemissions, preserves biodiversity, 2cultural future. minimizes the use of natural resources and ensures farmers At the same time, an anti-technology sentiment is currentlycapacity to produce sufficient, safe, nutritious and affordable leading to an unjustified attempt in France to re-classify estab- food for all, needs technology. Precision farming, data-driven lished breeding tools, which have been used safely for decades,agriculture, seed breeding and innovation in crop protection and would make their future use hardly possible. Moreover, theare enablers in agricultural production to fight the challenges new approach would severely affect existing intra-Europeanof a changing climate.trade of agricultural products and would leave farmer needs forWhatever the reasons for this French initiative are, our suitable tools for efficient crop cultivation unconsidered. understanding is that the whole breeding sector is open to work While in a first step only certain herbicide tolerant oilseedwith policy makers to reach a reasonable and realistic path for-rape varieties are targeted, the new rules in France may affectward. Unilateral decisions in one Member State, without sound many other crops, where mutagenesis techniques have beenscientific justification, can have severe consequences for many applied in multiple forms for the benefit of consumers and thesectors that may be initially overlooked. Destroying the basis of environment. This would not only impact France, but indirectlymarketing safe products is also destroying trust in European pol-may also affect multiple other EU member states.itics and risks the economic functionality of the common market. The core issue with the proposed new French rules is theWe trust that a thorough assessment of the proposed rules arbitrary splitting of random mutagenesis breeding into differentwill help to find an alternative way and a fair balance of interests, groups (in-vitro and in-vivo). These approaches are neither dif- while allowing safe breeding methods to contribute fully to a ferent in their effect on the breeding material to which they aresustainable future agriculture. applied, nor are they distinguishable in the resulting product. So, how could such an initiative gain momentum withoutEditors Note: Matthias Pohl is Global Head of Governmental any scientific assessment?Affairs Seeds & Traits BASF Agricultural Solutions.28IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'