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Options for regulating new genomic techniques for plants in the European Union


Which option for regulating plants derived from new genomic techniques in European Union law is feasible and justifiable scientifically? The European Commission has proposed a new regulation on plants obtained by specific new genomic techniques, which is now subject to discussion in the legislative process. From the perspective of the European Commission’s envisaged legal reforms of European Union law towards the integration of greater sustainability, we conclude that the option focusing on plant traits delivering sustainability benefits should be chosen, which is most fitting to facilitate a contribution to climate action, the transition towards climate neutrality, and promptly integrate sustainability into all food-related policies. To assist the decision-making in the legislative process, we outline six regulatory options resulting from regulatory research involving interdisciplinary teams.

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This publication is based upon work from several projects: the GeneBEcon project ‘Capturing the Potential of Gene Editing for a Sustainable BioEconomy’, funded by the Horizon Europe funding programme under the grant agreement 4107547 in the period 2022–2025; the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and Oberfrankenstiftung (OFS) project ‘Regulating Food Innovation – Technical Innovation requires Regulatory Innovation’, project numbers: 465588286 (DFG); FP00535 (OFS). The opinions expressed by authors from the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL; D.B., J.K. and K.U.) do not represent the position of the German Government.

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Project administration: D.E., X.T.S. Writing the original draft: Y.A., K.P., D.B., D.E., P.J., J.K., M.K., A. Molitorisová, A. Monaco, A.K.N., J.R., N.R., K.U., X.T.S. Reviewing and editing: Y.A., K.P., D.B., D.E., P.J., J.K., M.K., A. Molitorisová, A. Monaco, A.K.N., J.R., N.R., K.U. and X.T.S.

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Correspondence to Kai Purnhagen.

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Competing interests

K.P. is a member of the Task Force on Sustainable Agriculture and Innovation at the think tank Re-Imagine Europe. P.J. is employed by Euroseeds which is an industry umbrella organization representing the European seed and breeding sector. N.R. is as an expert in the European Food Safety Authority Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms and a chair of the EFSA Molecular Characterization Working Group. A.K.N. is employed by Plants for the Future ETP, a platform representing the farming community, the seed and breeding sector and academia.

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Nature Plants thanks Steffi Friedrichs and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Purnhagen, K., Ambrogio, Y., Bartsch, D. et al. Options for regulating new genomic techniques for plants in the European Union. Nat. Plants 9, 1958–1961 (2023).

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