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Researchers call for urgent changes to agri-science laws

About 90 research institutes across Europe have issued a joint statement calling on politicians to change EU laws on genome editing in agriculture, which they say are depriving society of “urgently needed” innovations.

The statement, published on 24 October, is a response to a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union. In July, the court ruled that modern forms of genetic manipulation fall under EU legislation dating from 2001, meaning that they are subject to stringent safety checks that researchers say are disproportionate and not scientifically justified.

“The EU genetically modified organism legislation does not correctly reflect the current state of scientific knowledge,” leaders of plant and life sciences institutes said in the joint statement. “Organisms that have undergone simple and targeted genome edits by means of precision breeding and which do not contain foreign genes are at least as safe as if they were derived from classical breeding techniques [that do not fall under the legislation].”

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