The European Commission has opened a public consultation on allowing genome editing techniques in agriculture, paving the way for a revived political fight over one of the most controversial scientific issues in the bloc.
The EU has long maintained a near-ban on first generation genetically modified organisms, which controversially is now heavily restricting work with newer, more refined gene editing methods that do not involve the insertion of transgenes from other species.
But the need to make crops more climate resilient, keep European agribusiness competitive and maintain food security in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed the issue back up the political agenda.
“Plants obtained with new genomic techniques (NGTs) could help build a more resilient and sustainable agri-food system,” said health and food safety commissioner Stella Kyriakides announcing the consultation, which opened on 29 April. “Our guiding principle will remain the safety of the environment and of consumers.”