Report of the International Symposium: Gene edited crops; global perspectives and regulation
Although in 2018 the EU Court of Justice ruled that plants obtained by targeted mutagenesis or gene editing are GMOs, and do not fall under the exemption of the EU Directive as they are not derived by classical mutagenesis, gene editing of crops is still a hot topic of debate in EU. Many stakeholders advocate the transition to a product-based legislation to make the GMO legislation future-proof and stimulate innovation. Other parties warn of risks of ‘hidden’ GMOs, stressing the importance of the precautionary principle or argue that exemption would lead to legal uncertainty for the organic sector and jeopardise freedom of choice and GMO-free production.
During the International Symposium on the 10th of October 2019, organized by the Netherlands Commission on Genetic Modification (COGEM), the possibilities and limitations that gene editing offers for plant breeding and crop improvement are discussed, meanwhile addressing the global perspectives and the worldwide differences in regulation and governance.
More than 100 scientists, policymakers, consultants, regulators and representatives from breeding companies around the world, gathered on the 10th of October 2019 in the beautiful, richly decorated Assembly Hall of the Senate of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, to discusses the complicated issue of gene editing of crops in light of the ruling of the European Court of Justice and the different global developments. The location was chosen carefully. “The Senate has a special position in the Dutch parliament as it is referred to as the chamber of reflection,” said professor Sybe Schaap, Chairman of COGEM, during his welcome speech. “It is an appropriate metaphor for the subject of today’s meeting since all the discussions on gene editing and its consequences require reflection.”