Court asked to rule by French Council of State
The European Court of Justice will rule whether or not new GMO techniques, including ODM, ZFN1, TALENs, and CRISPR-Cas, fall under EU GMO law.
The new GMO techniques have been dubbed “new plant breeding techniques” (NPBTs) by their proponents, who hope to sidestep the stigma, regulations, and labelling requirements attached to GMOs. But in GMWatch's view and in the view of qualified experts, the products of new plant breeding techniques are GMOs, both legally and scientifically.
The ruling will come in about 18 months, at the request of the French Council of State – see its press release in French here.
A story in Politico (behind paywall) titled, “France refers questions on new plant breeding to ECJ”, reports that France’s questions come at a tricky time: “New plant-breeding techniques (NPBTs) broadly refer to genetic engineering conducted within a single plant strain. Proponents see them as a more targeted alternative to conventional breeding that avoids the high regulatory barriers associated with developing GMOs.”
Politico adds, “The European Commission set up a working group in 2007 to assess whether the techniques should fall under the European Union’s GMO legislation. However, the legal analysis has been twice delayed — first at the end of 2015, then in March — prompting accusations of regulatory paralysis from sections of the seeds business. It is now expected sometime this year...
“The Council of State, the highest administrative court in France, citing ‘a serious difficulty in interpreting European Union law’, asked the European Court of Justice whether NPBTs fall under EU GMO law, whether they should be classed as GM varieties in EU law and whether countries could ban NPBTs.”
The court also asked the ECJ whether, were NPBTs to be exempt from EU GMO rules, this would endanger the precautionary principle.
No crops derived from NPBTs have yet received EU authorization because of the uncertain legal situation.