New genomic techniques discussed at the Grüne Woche in Berlin

Members of the alliance of associations on new breeding techniques jointly organised a panel discussion entitled “Modern breeding for a resilient agriculture: when will new genomic techniques (NGTs) come into practice?”, which was held at the Grüne Woche in Berlin on 23 January. BIO Deutschland supported the event. As NGTs are now nearing practical application, the panel focused on issues related to innovation and legal certainty. Mario Brandenburg, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and Klaus Berend, Director for Food Safety, Sustainability and Innovation in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, engaged in a lively discussion with moderator Tobias Brügmann.

Mario Brandenburg especially pointed out the opportunities that NGTs present for Germany as a location for research. “It’s a global race and if we don’t position ourselves now, others will have a head start.” The BMBF therefore advocates a science-based, innovation-friendly and risk-adapted revision of the EU’s current genetic engineering legislation and would like to see the coalition partners take a more positive approach to policymaking.

Klaus Berend said that he would welcome the swift adoption of the proposal by the European Parliament and the Member States represented in the Council in order to give farmers access to new crop varieties with improved traits. The position of the German government on this matter carries considerable weight.

On the day after the event, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted with a clear majority in favour of the European Commission’s proposal on how to regulate new genomic techniques. However, the positive vote came with a rejection of the patenting of plants bred using NGTs.

The official press release can be found here (in German only):

Discussion at the Grüne Woche’s Event Farm. From left to right: Tobias Brügemann, Maria Brandenburg (BMBF) and Klaus Berend (EU-KOM) © BIO Deutschland

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