The European Court of Justice on 18th of January gave its first opinion on classifying foods and crops derived from the new “breeding techniques”, on which a lot of biotechnological corporations are planning to invest heavily. This opinion confirms the attitude of ecological organizations from Europe- these new techniques are not breeding techniques, but genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is a clear victory against corporate rhetoric, which was aimed at the public in order for them to accept these new techniques.
However, not all news are good. In this opinion, there is a possibility for some of these techniques that are not subject for the risk assessment process. One of these techniques is the CRISPR genome editing system. CRISPR sequences are transcribed into short RNA sequences, which leads to the desired DNA system. When target DNA is found, one of the CRISPR system enzyme binds to it by spraying the desired gene. There remains a hope that in the final decision of the European Court of Justice in the spring the possibility of avoiding risk assessment will be excluded.
Mute Schimpf, of Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Farmers and consumers across the EU expect every new approach to food and crop production to be fully tested to make sure they are safe for the public and the environment, they count on the European Court of Justice to ensure that all new genetically modified foods and crops are properly regulated. “
The biotechnology industry argues that genetic change could come naturally through evolution, but critics say that organisms that involve genetic mutations made in the laboratory are artificial by definition and should therefore be classified as genetically modified organisms.
Nina Holland, of the Agrarian Agency for the “Corporate Europe Observatory”, added: “The safety of this new generation of GM crops remains completely unproven and should therefore not be exempt from the existing safety rules. Our common interest in food safety, farmers’ rights and the protection of the environment must come before the interest of the biotechnology industry. “
Scientists, consumer associations and non-government organizations have called for this new generation of GM products to be regulated by existing laws. Public opinion polls in the EU have consistently shown a lack of appetite for GM products.
Dr. Michael Antoniou, of the Department of Molecular Genetics at King’s College in London, said that the exclusion of new technologies from GM crops is “wrong and potentially dangerous”.
“None of these genetic modification methods are perfect, they have a “targeted effect” that can unintentionally disrupt biochemical in organisms, leading to unwanted outcomes – for example, if you create a new gene in the modified food, that can result in unexpected production of new toxins or allergy substances. “
Farmers have the right to know what they are growing, and consumers what they eat.