ENGA in the media – why New GMOs need to be strictly regulated


ENGA recently contributed an article to industry magazine, New Food, outlining - contrary to the UK’s current trajectory – why it’s vital that the status quo of a strict regulation of New GMOs is maintained in the EU.

In the article, published earlier this month, Heike Moldenhauer, ENGA Secretary General, explains that up until now, both the UK and the EU, GMOs have been strictly regulated. “Due to risk assessment, as well as traceability and labelling requirements for GMOs, business operators and consumers can rely on high food safety and transparency standards. But these key achievements are under threat.”

What’s happening with (de)regulation?

In England, Heike details in the article, the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill – currently going through the parliamentary process – proposes to exclude New GMOs (those that have been made with techniques like CRISPR/Cas) from any regulation. In the EU, the European Commission has announced a proposal on deregulation of new genomic techniques in its work plan for 2023, to be tabled in the second quarter of this year.

And what are the risks? 

The potential impacts of the alterations made in new genetic engineering techniques - in terms of unintended consequences - are not yet known, making regulation and risk assessment even more important. As Heike states: “The alleged safety of new genetic engineering and its products is a mere claim not substantiated by systematic scientific studies. Most publications focus on what is feasible with the new techniques, rather than on potential adverse effects.”

Heike explains that maintaining the current legislation for GMOs – a legislation that works well – is the best way to maintain transparency and safety: “Deregulation would mean lowering or even abolishing safety and transparency standards. Risk assessment, traceability and labelling requirements are at stake. Should the EU push ahead with its planned deregulation of New GMOs (as is happening in England) then invisible, untested GMOs will be on the EU market, on supermarket shelves and on consumers’ plates. For business operators this will result in a loss of control over their feed and food value chains; once New GMOs are present and unlabelled, it would be extremely difficult to know whether or not they are contained in food and feed,” Heike explains.

Heike concludes that the food sector has a lot to lose should a de-regulation of New GMOs go ahead. “The food and retail sector has a lot to lose, namely consumer trust and potentially massive financial setbacks within the booming conventional and organic non-GMO markets. Furthermore, it would be the food and retail sector that would face the questions and anger of consumers should  deregulation come to pass… it is crucial that the food sector stands up for its business interests and raises its voice in the coming months.”

Read the full article, via New Food Magazine here: https://www.newfoodmagazine.com/article/188593/why-new-gm-techniques-must-be-strictly-regulated/