The European Parliament's Environment Committee (ENVI) approved on Wednesday
(24 January) new rules for new genomic techniques (NGTs). The plenary will
vote in two weeks, but doubts remain on whether a law can be approved before
MEPs in the European Parliament's ENVI Committee on Wednesday voted on the
Commission's proposal for new rules on innovative types of gene-edited
plans, which currently fall under the more restrictive genetically modified
organisms (GMO) framework.
With 47 votes in favour to 31 against and 4 abstentions, a right-leaning
majority agreed to set two categories of NGTs: gene-edited plants that are
"indistinguishable" from those obtained through conventional breeding (NGT
1) - which would be exempted from the requirements of the GMO legislation -
and those with more "complex modifications" (NGT 2) - which would follow
In line with the Commission's proposal, presented in July, MEPs agreed that
NGT seeds must be labelled accordingly but that there would be no mandatory
labelling at consumer level for the NGT 1 products.
Lawmakers also voted to keep all NGTs out of organic production - claiming
their compatibility "requires further attention" - and to prevent EU
countries from banning them in their territory.
While the EU executive decided to leave the question of patents unanswered,
MEPs voted to introduce a full ban on patents for NGTs "to avoid legal
uncertainties, increased costs and new dependencies for farmers and
However, the EU organics association IFOAM said in a press release that
addressing the issue of patents "with an amendment and a report" was
Despite the proposed new rules for NGTs, the overarching legal framework for
biotechnologies has remained unchanged, i.e. the 1998 directive on the legal
protection of biotechnological interventions.