Immediate Review of the ECJ Ruling on Plant Genome Editing.
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We express our disappointment with regard to the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which classifies plants obtained by new breeding techniques (NBTs), such as CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing, as genetically modified organisms (GMO) that are subject to extensive pre-market risk evaluations. There is no scientific rationale for this decision.
We especially take exception with the statement by the ECJ that “the risks linked to the use of these new mutagenesis techniques might prove to be similar to those that result from the production and release of a GMO through transgenesis.” First of all, there are no proven risks for human or animal health from conventional transgenic plants. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, there is no higher risk of unintended consequences induced by genome editing than with older, less precise breeding strategies. For example, authorized chemical and radiation mutagenesis induce hundreds of random, uncharacterized mutations, any of which could lead to increased production of naturally toxic substances by the plant.
The EU statement that genome editing will lead to modifications “at a rate out of all proportion to those resulting from the application of conventional methods of mutagenesis” is also wrong. In fact, conventional mutagenesis induces genetic modifications at a rate that is orders of magnitude higher than genome editing.
A review of the ruling of the European Court of Justice is therefore urgent, based on scientific expertise/knowledge/facts.
As citizens and scientists we ask that the EU regulate crop genetic techniques based on science and that it support all efforts that will enhance food security and advance sustainable agriculture.
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