ASEBIO - Asociación Española de Bioempresas

01/24/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/24/2024 03:00

AseBio joins the open letter addressed to Members of the European Parliament regarding the voting on amendments to the EU legislative proposal on plants obtained through New[...]

AseBio

AseBio joins the open letter addressed to Members of the European Parliament regarding the voting on amendments to the EU legislative proposal on plants obtained through New Genomic Techniques (NGT)

The letter is supported by 35 Nobel laureates and over 1,000 scientists, urging the European Parliament to unlock the use of New Genomic Techniques in agriculture.

AseBio
24 January 2024
Agrifood
Food & feed
Agriculture

On Wednesday, January 24th, the ENVI Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) of the European Parliament will vote on a series of amendments to the legislative proposal of July 5, 2023, related to plants obtained through certain New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), and the derived foods and feeds, amending Regulation (EU) 2017/625. AseBio has participated in the development of this legislation through the public consultation launched in July 2022 by the European Commission, emphasizing that the development and application of NGTs enable the promotion of a more sustainable economic model, while increasing crop yield and quality.

The main objective of the mentioned regulation is to allow the development and commercialization of plants and plant products derived from NGTs. More specifically, through directed mutagenesis or cisgenesis (including intragenesis), as well as food and feed products produced from such plants. The regulatory proposal of the European Commission was made on the basis of the consideration that the current legislation related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is not suitable for NGTs.

In October of the previous year, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament presented a proposal for amendments to the draft of the Commission's European regulation on NGTs. In summary, the presented amendments refer to a clarification of what is considered an NGT product and what is defined as NGT plants. It is worth noting that these amendments also emphasize the need for the verification process to be supported by scientific foundation.

In this context and in the face of today's vote, an open letter has been addressed to Members of the European Parliament, which AseBio has joined and is signed by 35 Nobel laureates and over 1,000 scientists urging Members of the European Parliament to support New Genomic Techniques. In a context marked by the climate crisis, loss of biodiversity, and food insecurity, the signatories of the letter advocate for the need for a evidence-based scientific approach. In this regard, they argue that 'we must overcome ideology and dogmatism,' urging Members of the European Parliament to 'carefully consider the benefits of adopting New Genomic Techniques in their upcoming parliamentary decisions.'

The letter signatories express concern about the possibility of not fully harnessing the potential offered by current science in the face of the excessive time involved in conventional crop improvement to achieve climate-resistant harvests. 'It takes years, even decades. We don't have this time in a climate emergency,' they warn.

The letter also emphasizes that there are plants with genetic characteristics that are 'very difficult to cultivate using conventional methods, such as fruit trees, vines, or potatoes.' This issue is compounded by the fact that these plants require the use of harmful pesticides in the European Union to protect them from pests and diseases. This situation could be improved through the application of New Genomic Techniques.

'NGTs help make crop plants resistant to diseases through precise and targeted edits to their genetic code, making it possible to achieve our ambitious and vital goals of reducing pesticides while protecting farmers' yields,' argue the signatories.

'The bill on the regulation of plants obtained through NGTs is, therefore, an important step that we support in view of our mission to improve environmental sustainability in food, agriculture, and energy. The responsible use of NGTs could significantly contribute to our collective pursuit of a more resilient, environmentally conscious, and food-safe future,' the letter states.

In addition to the great potential that NGTs offer for sustainable agriculture, increased food security, and innovative medical solutions, their application can bring significant benefits in other areas such as creating new jobs and greater economic prosperity. The letter supports this stance with a recent report indicating that the refusal to allow NGTs could cost the European economy up to €300 billion annually 'in lost benefits across multiple sectors.'

'We urge you to consider the unequivocal body of scientific evidence supporting NGTs and make decisions that align with the best interests of the European Union and its citizens. Your support for NGTs will not only foster innovation but also position the European Union as a leader in globally responsible and evidence-based policy-making,' concludes the letter.