Research and analysis

Genetically modified organisms: new plant growing methods

The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment examines how EU law on genetically modified products applies in modern plant breeding.

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This report looks at whether the EU’s definition of a genetically modified organism (GMO), which has been in place since the 1990s, is sufficient to deal with enquiries about the genetic status of the products of some new plant breeding techniques.

These techniques have not previously been considered by regulators. The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) was asked to provide its advice to government on such new techniques to inform EU level discussions.

The report contains ACRE’s conclusions about the genetically modified (GM) status of plants grown using some specific techniques. It also highlights the committee’s concerns about the current definition of a GMO, where ACRE thinks legal clarification is required.

Although the report concentrates on methods of plant growth, many of the techniques discussed have equivalents in genetic modification of animals and other organisms.