26.07.2018

ECJ: GMO provisions also apply to new techniques

Food genetically modified through targeted mutagenesis falls within the scope of the provisions of EU law on genetically modified organisms (GMO). The ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of 25 July 2018 in case C-528/16 to this effect is thus a groundbreaking decision in the field of genetic engineering.

Foods that have been genetically modified, e.g. using CRISPR “gene-editing scissors”, are subject to the same requirements for risk assessment, approval and labelling as apply to food that was genetically modified through conventional methods. Prior to the judgment of the ECJ, it was not clear in law if a targeted intervention in the genetic material of plants without the insertion of foreign DNA should be regulated as strictly.

The Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, is critical of the ruling. She believes that the judgment will impede the development of pest-resistant and drought-resistant plant species and thus endanger a sufficient food supply in e.g. cereals. Consumer protection agencies, however, are relieved. They had feared that GMO would be sold lawfully in shops without any corresponding labelling and thus be indistinguishable for consumers.

What is CRISPR/Cas?

The CRISPR/Cas method is a bio-chemical technique with which the genetic material of an organism can be specifically modified. For further information, please see here.

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Do you have any questions about the analysis of GMO, or do you require legal advice? Contact us - we will gladly advise you.

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Florian Jünemann
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