Recently we’ve talked about how, in the Netherlands, lobbyists are pushing for a change in the EU GMO regulation of cisgenesis. It isn’t just the Netherlands, however, hoping for this deregulation — biotech advocates throughout Europe are pushing for this same deregulation at the EU level as well. The industry’s lobbying group has been working hard —
The trail of Freedom of Information requests over the past three years to the European Commission illuminates industry’s efforts to have new genetic engineering techniques escape regulation. These efforts are coordinated by the New Breeding Techniques (NBT) Platform, whose objective is to have “all NBTs – or as many techniques as possible – exempt from GM legislation”.
The fight over cisgenesis is a big part of this. In case you missed the post Netherlands Work to Deregulate Cisgenesis, cisgenesis refers to the insertion of genes from the same or closely related species into a recipient plant, in contrast with transgenesis, whereby genes from another species are introduced.
This issue is so important because if cisgenesis becomes unregulated, a slew of new GMO foods will enter the marketplace unregulated, contrary to what many European consumers want.
Due to widespread consumer rejection of GMOs, invisibility is vital for the commercial success of any new genetically engineered product in Europe. Their unregulated mass release could however have far-reaching consequences for the environment, food safety and consumer choice.
After contemplating this question for eight years, the Commission finally plans to publish a draft decision in February 2016. This briefing, based on documents released by the European Commission following freedom of information requests, illuminates the efforts made over the past three years by the industry lobby to have the new GM techniques deregulated.
One of the industry’s arguments for deregulating cisgenesis touches on the fact that mutagenesis isn’t regulated, and gene editing is a form of mutagenesis. But the response to this is that gene editing is different from chemical and radiation mutagenesis techniques. Still, some would question how gene editing, a more precise form of genetic modification, must be regulated, while chemical or radiation techniques are exempt.
There is a wealth of information on the fight over EU GMO regulations at CorporateEurope.org, and we certainly encourage you to read more:
And to learn about the industry’s specific arguments for deregulating cisgenesis, and the counter-arguments, check out this table: