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European Parliament votes to support proposal for the regulation of new genomic techniques

February 8, 2024

The EU Parliament met 5-8 February in Strasbourg and, following a debate on 6 February, the Parliament voted in favor of the NGT (new genomic techniques) legislation the following day. The legislation passed by a relatively narrow margin of 307 to 263, with 41 members abstaining. Support for the bill crossed party lines, but two major European voting blocs, including the Greens, solidly opposed it. Parliamentary negotiators now have a mandate to engage in three-way discussions with the EU Council and the European Commission to agree on the final text of the legislation prior to formal adoption.

The legislation is part of a package of measures designed to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and to strengthen the resilience of EU food systems. It describes a category of NGTs, classed as targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis, producing modifications that could be obtained in nature or by conventional breeding. These are determined to be ‘Conventional-like’ and, once verified, would be regulated in the same way as conventional varieties.

In addition to enabling EU growers to benefit from improved varieties, the proposed regulation would also help facilitate international trade by bringing EU policy closer to that of trading partners in North and South America, UK, India, Australia, and Japan.

MEP and rapporteur Jessica Polfjärd said of the vote, “Historic step forward: the European Parliament supports my proposal for sustainable use of new genomic techniques (NGT). A game changer for sustainable agriculture and a clear signal that we embrace science and support our farmers.”

“The parliamentary vote is a significant milestone in the EU legislative process providing a welcome boost to innovators particularly in academia and small and mid-sized enterprises developing NGT products that can contribute to a sustainable EU agri-food system,” commented Tony Moran, Senior Vice President of International Development & Government Affairs at Cibus.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of a sustainable global food supply system. The promise of gene editing is its ability to address major challenges of farming such as disease, insects and a globally changing environment with greater speed and precision with traits that are indistinguishable from conventional breeding. This vote continues a global alignment to regulate certain gene editing applications as conventional and to enable this revolution to help farmers,” stated Rory Riggs CEO of Cibus.

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