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Today, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a regulation on plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques (targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis) (‘NGTs’) and derived food and feed products.

NGTs permit more targeted genetic changes than conventional breeding or traditional genomic techniques involving the introduction of genetic material from a non-crossable species, permitting rapid development of plant varieties with beneficial characteristics.

Reflecting the lower risks of NGTs compared to traditional genomic techniques recognised by the European Food Safety Authority, the proposal lays down a less burdensome EU regulatory framework than currently applicable for both the deliberate release into the environment of plants obtained by NGTs (‘NGT plants’) and the placing on the market of food and feed containing, consisting of, or produced from, those plants (‘NGT food and feed’).

Under the proposal, NGT plants and NGT food and feed are divided into two categories:

  • Following a notification procedure, NGT plants declared to be equivalent to plants obtained by conventional breeding techniques, and their derived NGT food and feed are exempted from the requirements of EU GMO legislation.
  • All other NGT plants and their derived NGT food and feed remain subject to GMO authorization, traceability, and labelling requirements under current EU GMO legislation, subject to certain adaptations, including lighter, more targeted authorization risk assessment requirements. 

The proposal constitutes an important element of the European Green Deal and the related Farm to Fork Strategy in establishing a regulatory framework more conducive to promoting innovation in development of plant and plant products, permitting more sustainable agricultural and food systems.

As currently worded, any finally adopted Regulation would begin to apply in EU Member States two years after its entry into force.

For further information on the European Commission’s proposal on the regulation of new genomic techniques, please contact Craig Simpson.