Genome Editing for Crop Improvement
Symposium organised by ALLEA and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB)
Genome editing, in particular the use of CRISPR-Cas9 and other site-directed mutagenesis methods, is a new technology that very precisely modifies the genes of organisms. On 25 July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that organisms obtained by genome editing techniques are subject to the strict conditions of the EU GMO directives. This decision has given rise to concerns and criticisms from scientists who call for an amendment of the relevant legislation. The types of modifications generated by genome editing are indeed much more precise than those derived from chemical and radiation mutagenesis, two techniques that are widely used in classical breeding and are exempt under the GMO legislation. Therefore, scientists consider genome edited crops that do not contain foreign DNA to be at least as safe as those derived from classical breeding. Furthermore, the EU legislation, as interpreted by the ECJ, is in sharp contrast to legislation in many countries outside the EU that exempt genome edited crops from their respective GMO legislations.
The ALLEA-KVAB symposium assessed the scientific value of the present research in genome editing of crops and the relevance of the developments in this field for society. It provided an overview of the scientific evidence with respect to the safety of genome edited crops and of their potential for solving current and future problems in agriculture. It further examined the impact of genome editing of crops on society, on agricultural structures and on international trade. The symposium addressed the intellectual property law aspects of the technology and initiate a discussion on relevant policy options for an amendment of the present EU legislation. In this way, the participants received relevant scientific evidence and science-based policy considerations for the future regulation of genome editing of plants.
A symposium report is currently under preparation.
Topics addressed during the symposium:
- The science behind genome editing
- What can genome editing deliver for agriculture?
- Societal considerations related to agricultural applications of genome editing
- Traceability and impact on international trade
- Regulation and legislation
|12:30||Registration and sandwich lunch|
|13:45||Welcome and Introduction:|
Professor Karel Velle, President KVAB
Professor Hubert Bocken, Vice-President ALLEA
Professor Pere Puigdomènech, ALLEA/CRAG
|14:00||Keynote Speech: Genome editing in different domains: same or different issues? How science and ethics interplay|
Professor Anne Cambon-Thomsen, CNRS
|14:30||Session 1: Genome Editing in Science and Agriculture
The science behind genome editing
What can genome editing deliver for agriculture?
|16:30||Session 2: Genome Editing in International Trade and Society?
Societal considerations related to agricultural applications of genome editing
Hilde Crevits, Viceminister-president of the Flemish Government and Flemish minister for Economy, Innovation, Labor, Social Economy and Agriculture
|8:50||Re-Opening and welcome|
|9:15||Session 3: Legal and Regulatory Aspects
Intellectual Property law and genome editing of crops
Risk assessment and regulation of genome edited crops
Breaking the Impasse: a Governance Framework for Gene Editing with Plants
|11:15||Session 4: Round Table Policy Options for the Legislator|
René Custers, VIB
Georges Van Keerberghen, Boerenbond
Wouter Vanhove, Groen
Alain Deshayes, AFBV
David Hamburger, University of Passau
|12:30||Summary and Conclusion|
7-8 November 2019
Rue Ducale 1
1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
ALLEA Executive Officer