EU’s top court confirms safety checks needed for new GM

EU’s top court confirms safety checks needed for new GM

New GM techniques such as genome editing must be fully tested

The EU’s top court ruled today that a controversial new generation of food genetic engineering techniques should be subject to EU safety checks and consumer labelling.[1]

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice confirmed that new techniques to modify genetic material in plant or animal cells – so called ‘GMO 2.0’ – must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as existing genetically modified foods (GMOs).

GMWatch welcomes the ruling. London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou commented, “I’m delighted that the European Court of Justice has been true to the science and not to the lobbying. It sees the new GM techniques, including new mutagenesis techniques based on genome editing, as processes of genetic modification and thus it says that the products derived from these procedures must be subjected to GMO risk assessment and labelling.

“It is particularly insightful of the ECJ that it perceives the risks arising from these new mutagenesis techniques can be as great as those from old-style transgenesis GM methods. Thus it is important that the organisms derived from these new techniques are subject to the GMO regulatory system.”

Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “These new ‘GMO 2.0’ genetic engineering techniques must be fully tested before they are let out in the countryside and into our food. We welcome this landmark ruling which defeats the biotech industry’s latest attempt to push unwanted genetically-modified products onto our fields and plates.”

The biotech industry has been arguing that “new GM” foods and crops should not go through existing EU safety and labelling laws. Today’s decision therefore preserves the EU’s food safety and traceability standards, which would have been threatened by any ambiguity in the ruling.

Mute Schimpf continued: “EU and national lawmakers now need to ensure that all new genetically modified products are fully tested, and they must also support the small-scale, nature-friendly agriculture we urgently need.”


[1] ECJ ruling

Briefing – ECJ ruling: will ‘GMO 2.0’ be introduced to Europe’s fields by the back door?

The court’s judgement is here: