GENOME EDITING

Genome editing has been and continues to be one of the most hotly contested yet simultaneously most ground-breaking innovations of the past years and decades. Open questions and resulting legislative uncertainty remain at the top of the agenda. Key points are still in need of resolution for genome editing technologies to fulfill their promised potential while also ensuring their use within socially and ethically accepted frameworks.

As genome editing has implications for society as much as it has for its scholarly environment, an interdisciplinary approach is needed which harmonises what science can do with what society is willing to accept.

ALLEA is working on genome editing from a variety of angles. Our Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights has repeatedly published on the legal aspects of patenting inventions deriving from genome editing. Similarly, experts from the Working Group on Science & Ethics frequently contribute their expertise on discussions surrounding the conditions for the ethical use of genome editing techniques.

Genome Editing for Crop Improvement

Since the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU of 2018, which placed genome-edited crops under the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) legislation, the scientific community has passionately debated the future of these new breeding techniques.

The ALLEA report “Genome Editing for Crop Improvement” presents the state of the art of scientific evidence in the field and explores paths to harmonise EU legislation with recent scientific developments, while particularly considering relevant ethical and societal considerations.

The report summarizes the discussions of the ALLEA and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts symposium on genome editing for crop improvement on 7/8 November in Brussels.

Topics addressed:

  • The science behind genome editing
  • What can genome editing deliver for agriculture?
  • Societal considerations related to agricultural applications of genome editing
  • Traceability issues
  • Regulatory and legislation

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