The Commission has announced on several occasions that it would publish a legal interpretation of Directive 2001/18 regarding the status of seven of the so-called ‘new plant breeding techniques’. In a letter sent in June 2015, the Commission asked the Member States not to allow any release into the environment of plants modified through these techniques outside of the legal framework designed for genetically modified organisms, before said legal interpretation was published. The Commission has not, to our knowledge, made any official statement regarding the process concerning any future imports of products coming from plants obtained through one of these techniques. This issue will soon need to be addressed, as Cibus began to market its first crop obtained through Oligonucleotides Directed Mutagenesis, SU Canola™, in North America in 2015.
1. What is the procedure for approving authorisation for use in food and feed of products coming from plants obtained through so-called ‘new breeding techniques’ in the absence of a legal interpretation on the genetically modified organism status of these plants?
2. Can the Commission confirm that these products will not go through the standard procedure for import of non-genetically modified products, especially as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) — in its opinion of 26 January 2012 — pointed to specific risks in the case of two of these techniques?
The Commission’s reflection concerning the scope of the current Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) legislation is ongoing. The Commission would, however, underline that any interpretative guidance it provides is not binding and only the Court of Justice can give definitive interpretations of EU legislation. Where products fall within the scope of the GMO legislation, all the provisions for approving authorisation for use in food and feed are applicable(1), whether those products are produced in the EU or imported.
(1) Cf in particular Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22.9.2003 on genetically modified food and feed.