1. What will the consequences be if Member States decide to authorise the use of CRISP/Cas9 techniques for targeted plant mutations, and does the Commission consider that a plant is not a GMO if no foreign DNA is introduced into it?
2. Could the Commission indicate why it is taking so long to decide on new breeding techniques and state what steps have been taken to accelerate the process?
3. When does the Commission expect a decision to be published on the admission of new breeding techniques, in particular CRISP/Cas9, and what are the obstacles still preventing it from making a decision?
1. and 3. The French Council of State has requested a preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the interpretation of the exclusion of organisms produced by mutagenesis from the scope of Genetically Modified Organisms legislation (Case C-528/16). The Commission, therefore, does not intend to issue further interpretation on the current legislation.
2. In the light of the rapid progress in biotechnology, the Commission has considered it necessary to improve the scientific understanding of new breeding techniques taking into account the extensive variation in their possible applications and the way they are used. Therefore, the Commission decided to consult the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) to deliver an explanatory note on new techniques in plant and animal breeding and in microbial agri-food applications.
This note has just been published(1) and will feed into a public debate on how the EU can benefit from innovation in the food and agricultural sector while ensuring a high-level protection of human and animal health and environment.
(1) Explanatory Note of the High Level Group of Scientific Advisors of the Scientific Advice Mechanism on New Techniques in Agricultural Biotechnology, 28 April 2017, ec.europa.eu/research/sam/pdf/topics/explanatory_note_new_techniques_agricultural_biotechnology.pdf