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Industry Calls on the Commission to 'Show Leadership' in Plant Breeding Innovation

Summary posted by Meridian on 9/28/2017

Source: EurActiv.com (27 Sep 2017)

Author(s): Sarantis Michalopoulos

The European Commission, amid criticism that it has delayed the creation of a framework for biotechnology in the European Union, is this week holding a conference on modern biotechnologies in agriculture. The aim of the conference is to open the discussion about innovation-driven solutions in the field. “Generally speaking, the Commission considers that a broad EU reflection on new breeding techniques and innovation in the seed sector and beyond is needed,” EU sources said. The biotech industry is urging the EC to “show leadership and positive commitment” to plant breeding innovation, and provide clarity on agricultural innovation in general. The agri-food industry argues that plants resulting from new breeding techniques - which do not involve inserting foreign DNA into a plant’s genes - should not be considered genetically modified. “Where progress in science and methods allow us to achieve our objectives better and faster without posing new risks, embracing such progress in plant breeding and European farming should be a logical consequence,” Garlich von Essen, the secretary-general of the European Seeds Association (ESA), said. Beat Späth, the director of green biotechnology for the European Association of Bioindustries, said the conference is a good opportunity to dispel myths and misconceptions in plant breeding innovation. “We hope that the Commission can ensure that there is a fair, inclusive and constructive discussion and, as a follow-on, help to provide the much-needed clarity so that both Europe and Europe’s innovative industry can thrive,” he said. But environmentalists do not share industry views. Ramona Duminicioiu, a peasant farmer and member of the European Coordination Via Campesina, said “Our farmers are developing new and accessible technologies every day. On the opposite side, what the biotech industry is proposing nowadays with products derived from NBTs [New Breeding Techniques] is to counter consumers’ massive rejection of GMOs, just renaming them in a different way. But for us the current legislation is clear and GMO regulation should be applied to all new GMOs.”

The original article may still be available at http://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/industry-calls-on-the-commission-to-show-leadership-in-plant-breeding-innovation/

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