Where Ideas grow

In defense of genome editing

Now that the main European institutions have new leaderships, scientists are urging them to overrule the decision issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union, a year ago today, on the reported negative impact of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) on agriculture, society and economy.

In light of the potential genome editing has shown to have for the benefit of sustainable farming and food production, over 70 Portugueses scientists have written and signed an open letter where they make the case for genome editing and how much closer it could get us to achieving UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

This follows the publication of an open statement by the European Scientific Community questioning the decision taken by the European Court of Justice on July 25th, 2018 to submit high precision genome editing techniques to the same legislation applied to GMO. Over 120 research institutions – i3S among them – support the document.

The difference in regulatory approach is more than a matter of science. It is also a question of food safety. The European scientific community calls on the European institutions, including the European Council, the new Parliament and the next European Commission, to adopt legal measures enabling scientists and entities developing new plant varieties to use genome editing towards environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture and food production. The ability to use genome editing is crucial for the well-being and food security of citizens and for the adoption of agronomic techniques that have a lower impact on the environment.