At today’s (Wednesday, May 20) adoption of the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy Commissioner Stella Kyriakides stated that the EU needs to develop innovative ways to protect crops from pests and diseases.

She remarked that this requires new innovative techniques and, referring to gene-editing, stated that it was part of a study being undertaken by the EU at present.

“In the European Green Deal it is clearly stated that in the context of the Farm to Fork Strategy the EU does need to develop innovative ways to protect harvests from pests and diseases and to consider the potential roles of new innovative techniques,” she said.

These innovative technologies must always be safe for consumers and the environment.

Commenting on a study on new genomic techniques requested by the council, she said: “This study will be providing us with a great opportunity to assess the status of these techniques, in particular in view of the 2018 European Court of Justice [ECJ] ruling.

“We will wait for the outcome of this study. Any potential action or changing of policy on this will be only after the study is finalised, which we see as being around 2021,” she added.

Also Read: Farm to Fork: 20% reduction in fertiliser use; antimicrobial and pesticide use to halve

ECJ ruling

In July 2018, the ECJ ruled that gene-edited crops should be regulated in the same way as conventionally genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

CRISPR is a common form of gene-editing. The technique involves changes to DNA. It does not involve the insertion of genes from other species.

Also Read: EU gene-editing ruling – ‘virtually impossible to enforce’

Put the EU in the ‘dark ages’

One Irish scientist told AgriLand at the time that the decision will put the EU in “the dark ages” of technology and that it would stymie research.

Dr. Barbara Doyle Prestwich of University College Cork (UCC) stated that the EU would fall behind in technology that can result in less chemical use in our food chain and, as a result, impact heavily on sustainable farming and climate change.