Crop Biotech Update

More Info on EU Proposal Needed, European Scrutiny Committee Says

November 29, 2023

The European Scrutiny Committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons has called for the Government to provide more information on recent EU proposals on gene-edited crops. In July, the European Commission proposed establishing new regulations for plants that are developed through new genomic techniques (NGTs) such as gene editing.

Under the EU Proposal, plants with genetic material from the same plant will be subject to simpler and less onerous regulations than was previously the case. Plants that contain genetic material from uncrossable plants will continue to be covered by previous EU legislation. The existing regulations in the EU for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been in place since 2001. However, a variety of NGTs have been developed in recent years and are not currently covered by these regulations. A 2021 European Commission study found that the current rules meant that EU members were “significantly lagging” behind competitors on NGTs.

In an Explanatory Memorandum, the UK's Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries Mark Spencer said that England was ahead on this issue with the Precision Breeding Act passed in March 2023. However, the Precision Breeding Act does not apply in Scotland or Wales, which are aligned closer to the EU's original position. The Minister said neither country currently had plans to amend its own approach to regulating gene-edited crops, but said the UK Government would continue to engage with devolved governments on the issue.

The Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee Sir William Cash wrote to Minister Spencer, pressing for more information on this issue. He wrote that understanding the difference would be critical to knowing what products an English producer could market in Northern Ireland, compared to a Northern Ireland producer in the same market.

For more details, read the news article on the European Scrutiny Committee website.

You might also like: