‘A real game-changer for Europe’: Plans to loosen rules on genomic techniques pass first hurdle

NGTs are a variety of techniques that alter the genetic material of an organism. Currently, all plants obtained by NGTs are subject to the same rules as GMOs, which are among the strictest in the world.

The European Commission believes that developing improved plant varieties that are climate resilient, pest resistant, give higher yields or that require fewer fertilisers and pesticides could help to make the food system more sustainable and resilient.

Several NGT products are already or in the process of becoming available on the market outside the EU (eg bananas in the Philippines that do not go brown​, with the potential to reduce food waste and CO2 emissions). The European Food Safety Authority has evaluated potential safety issues​ of NGTs.

Next steps

Parliament is now scheduled to adopt its mandate during the 5-8 February 2024 plenary session, after which it is ready to start negotiations with EU member states.

Euroseeds, which represents the European seed industry, welcomed the news. Secretary General Garlich von Essen said, “This vote sends an important signal to Europe’s breeders, farmers and citizens. Driving sustainability goes hand in hand with the need to support and enable innovation.”

Von Essen emphasised that “this legislative initiative has the potential to boost Europe’s progress and leadership in plant breeding and ensure high-quality seed security, supporting our transition towards a resilient, truly sustainable food system.”   

Before the vote, numerous agri-food associations, research and public institutions, NGOs, and farmers’ organisations all voiced their support for the NGTs proposal​.