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France Opposes EU Court Decision to Put Gene-Edited Crops Under GMO Regulation

Thursday, February 25, 2021

France sees crops developed using gene-editing techniques as different to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and opposes a European Union court decision to put them under strict GMO regulations, the country’s agriculture minister was reported as saying by Reuters last month. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2018 that mutagenesis, among so-called New Breeding Techniques (NBT) based on targeted editing of genes, fell under rules applying to GMOs that incorporate DNA from a different species, Reuters said. 

On the other hand, that decision had been welcomed by some environmentalists who had long opposed GMOs as a threat to ecosystems, while seed makers and scientists criticized the ruling saying it penalizes Europe’s agricultural research capacity. “NBTs are not GMOs,” agriculture minister Julien Denormandie was quoted as saying in an interview published by several farming news outlets, Reuters said. “This (NBT) technology allows much quicker development of a variety that could have emerged naturally at some point, and that is a very good thing,” he reportedly said, calling for NBT not to be regulated like GMOs.
France is the EU’s largest agricultural producer and among EU members to have banned the cultivation of GMO crops.  Meanwhile, England’s farming minister announced last month a public consultation on gene editing in agriculture, saying Britain’s exit from the EU now allowed it to set its own rules. 

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