Letter to the members of the European Parliament

AFBV-GfPB-WGG: Appeal to the members of the European Parliament to vote on regulation of plants derived from new genomic techniques (NGT)

Paris, Neustadt, Karlsruhe, 02.02 2024

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

Honourable Member

Following the important work carried out by the AGRI and ENVI Committees and their positive votes on the project of regulation on NGT (New Genomic Techniques) plants proposed by the Commission in July 2023, you will be invited to vote, in the coming days, on this project.

As you know, food security is a necessity for the European Union (EU). This security can be jeopardized by environmental constraints linked to climate change and the need to reduce inputs (plant protection products, fertilizers, water, etc.), as well as global conflicts or pandemics. Since the beginnings of agriculture, more than 10,000 years ago, and especially over the last century, crop productivity (yield, diversity and nutritional and health quality) has greatly improved. This improvement results, essentially, from fertile interactions between research in plant genetics and genomics, breeders and farmers who integrated scientific knowledge and new technologies into the process of developing new innovative varieties.

NGTs are among the latest newly available techniques. They enable targeted modifications of the plant genome to produce traits of interest for the cultivation process or product quality. Combined with other techniques already in use, NGTs can speed up the process of plant breeding by more rapidly generating plants resistant to biotic stresses caused by pathogens and pests, tolerant to abiotic stresses caused by the environment or plants of better quality that meet consumer demands. These NGTs can be applied to a wider range of species and traits than established genomic techniques. They have lower entry and operating costs. These properties suggest that the developers and users of these techniques will be widely diverse as shown by the first NGT plants developed worldwide.

The consequences of a limitation in access or use of NGTs in Europe will concern different areas:

  • Research and development: We are already perceiving a reduction in investments in this area and, as a consequence, a loss of skills which are, however, developing strongly outside EU as evidence by the number of scientific publications. Moreover, the results of European research institutes on NGT applications will be exported abroad and not translated into practical applications in EU;
  • At the level of farmers: These farmers, unable to benefit from more efficient crops resulting from the use of NGTs, will be heavily penalised for exporting and will face competition from imports. The seed production business, which provides income for many of them, will leave our territories;
  • At the market level: As many species are amenable to NGTs, competition will affect more plants/plant products than those resulting from other genomic techniques with restricted range of application;
  • At the consumer level: The benefits that these NGTs can bring in terms of crop quality will not be accessible to European consumers, except through imports;
  • In terms of environmental preservation: Access to NGT plants resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses being impossible, they will not be able to contribute to the necessary reduction of crop protection products and fertilisers.

Our associations are convinced that NGTs can bring benefits to society as a whole and constitute an effective tool for increasing the sustainability of agri-food systems, thereby contributing to food security in EU. This analysis is shared by more than 500 scientists who co-signed the open letter published in January, which you can download at: https://www.wggev.de/open-letter-to-the-members-of-envi-committee-regarding-voting-on-ngt-plants/

We thank you for your attention to this draft regulation. You have a great responsibility for the scientific and economic development of plant breeding and for more sustainable agriculture, and thus for Europe as a centre of science and business.

Georges FREYSSINET                    Prof. Dr. Gabi KRCZAL                  Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter JANY 

Président AFBV                                Chairwoman GfPB                         Chairman WGG    

afbv.secretariat@gmail.com   gabi.krczal@agroscience.rlp.de                jany@wgg-ev.de  

https://www.biotechnologies-       https://www.pflanzen-                  https://www.wggev.de/

vegetales.com/                              biotechnologie.de/                     


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