The European Parliament is currently reviewing a significant proposal on regulating New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) for plants, which could potentially reshape the future of agricultural biotechnology in the European Union. Cibus, Inc., a prominent ag-tech company in the development and licensing of plant traits, has recognized the draft report from the EU Parliament as a meaningful development in this sector.
- EU GMO Legislation Revision: The European Commission proposal aims to revise EU GMO legislation, which has been deemed not fit for the application of NGTs in plants, leading to potentially transformative regulations in European agriculture.
- Classification of NGTs: The proposed regulation creates a ‘Conventional-like’ category for NGTs that could mimic natural or traditional breeding changes, seeking to regulate these NGTs similarly to conventional varieties.
- Cibus, Inc. Response: Cibus, Inc. welcomes the proposal, emphasizing that it could level the playing field for EU innovators and align with global legislation, benefiting small and medium-sized enterprises and academic institutions.
- European Parliament’s Draft Report: The European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety has published a draft report recommending improvements to the proposal, such as clarifying the criteria for conventional-like NGT plants and ensuring a science-based verification process.
- Legislative Procedure Timeline: The Committee aims to finalize the report by January 2024, with the European Parliament set to vote on it the following month, indicating a swift progression through the legislative procedure.
Cibus Welcomes European NGT Regulation Proposal
Cibus, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBUS), a pioneer in agricultural technology and gene editing, has publicly supported the European Parliament’s draft report on regulating plants derived from New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). The draft report, a response to a proposal by the European Commission, is a significant step in updating the European Union’s approach to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and aligning it with current technological capabilities.
The draft report acknowledges the potential of NGTs to contribute to a sustainable agri-food system in Europe. Cibus, known for its non-seed-based trait development and licensing model, sees this as an opportunity for growth and innovation, particularly for smaller enterprises and academic entities working on NGT-based products.
Proposal for ‘Conventional-like’ NGT Regulation
The Commission’s proposal introduces a category for NGTs that produce modifications akin to those achievable through nature or conventional breeding. This new category, termed ‘Conventional-like,’ suggests that certain NGTs should be regulated no differently than traditional plant varieties. This approach reflects a growing consensus that the existing GMO legislation may not adequately address the nuances of newer, more precise genetic editing techniques.
The European Parliament’s Draft Report: A Road to Adoption
The draft report from the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety marks the first comprehensive analysis of the Commission’s proposal. While endorsing the proposal as a good foundation, the report suggests further refinements, such as defining the criteria for conventional-like NGT plants more clearly. It proposes a science-based verification procedure to ensure the safety and efficacy of NGT products.
The Implications for Cibus and Global Agriculture
The potential new regulatory framework is encouraging for companies like Cibus, which stands at the forefront of gene editing technology with its proprietary Trait Machine™ process. The company’s productivity traits aim to solve critical agricultural issues that cost the global economy an estimated $300 billion annually due to diseases and pests.
Cibus’ collaboration with seed companies extends its reach, offering traits for essential crop improvements such as pod shatter and disease resistance. The proposed regulations would enable Cibus to leverage its technology in a more supportive European market, accelerating the adoption of sustainable and productive agricultural practices.
As the EU Parliament’s ENVI Committee works towards finalizing its report, the agricultural sector anticipates a new era of regulation that balances innovation with safety and sustainability. The upcoming vote in early 2024 could mark a pivotal moment in the journey of NGTs from the lab to the field, not just in Europe but as a standard for regulatory approaches worldwide.
Image provided by the European Parliament