New Breeding Techniques : a good news for farmers, tarnished by a request for labelling

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With 307 votes in favour 263 against and 41 abstentions the report on the legal framework for New Genomic Techniques (NGT) was approved by the European Parliament. This is good news that will give farmers new tools to adapt to climate change and use less chemicals.

However, the European Parliament voted for a position that differs in many respects from that of the European Commission making it much more cautious towards NGTs. While the Commission basically equated NGT1 with conventional varieties the European Parliament demands that NGT1 must meet sustainability criteria and pass an environmental assessment in order to be placed on the market. In addition Farm Europe regrets that today’s vote calls for imposing labelling not only on reproductive plant material but also on final products containing NGT1.

While the Commission avoided the issue of patents postponing it to a different legislation the Parliament imposes a patent ban on new genomic techniques. On the organic the exclusion of NGTs is confirmed but the Commission is asked for a revision of this decision after 7 years from the entry into force of the regulation. This text will then have to be negotiated with the Council once the 27 Member States agree on a general approach. This afternoon the Belgian presidency at Coreper will try to make progress in this direction.