EU Commission pushes ahead with deregulation of New Genetically Engineered organisms
The EU Commission has announced plans to speed up the deregulation of plants derived from new genomic techniques (NGTs or New GE).
In a letter to the non-profit organization Testbiotech, the Commission claimed that risks associated with unintended genetic changes caused by NGTs have already been addressed. Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said she will propose draft legislation before the summer break to accelerate the introduction of New GE plants.
However, in April various sources reported that the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (which is responsible for quality assurance at the early stages of the legislative processes) had identified serious problems with the Commission's draft proposal regarding health and environmental risks. Nevertheless, the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) seems determined to proceed.
Testbiotech received another letter from DG SANTE in response to its criticism of the proposed deregulation. The letter stated there is no need to investigate risks from unintended changes caused by NGTs in detail. DG SANTE did not address Testbiotech's science-based concerns but it mainly focused on defending its position.
Testbiotech warns that overlooking hazardous unintended changes could allow them to spread quickly, accumulate, and severely damage plant and animal breeding, the environment and future food security.
In response to the letter from the EU Commission, Testbiotech provided evidence that unintended changes require more detailed assessment. It urges the Commission to avoid hastily releasing New GE organisms to prevent harming future generations.