A ruling by the European Union’s (EU) top court states that food produced by a series of new biotechnology breeding techniques, such as CRISPR, should be considered genetically modified organisms (GMO).
This ruling means the specific food or food ingredient resulting from these gene-editing techniques falls under the EU’s strict regulations and restrictions on GMO. Any crop or food ingredient must now go through a thorough safety check, and will be subject to stringent labeling rules on any packaging.
CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques do not add genetic material in the process, instead the techniques repair, edit, or activate existing segments of a species’ genetic code.
In a statement via Twitter, German chemical industry association VCI — which represents companies such as BASF and Bayer — called the decision by the court, “Backward-turning and hostile to progress.”
As biotechnology breeding becomes more commonplace, certain groups within the EU have recently raised concerns about the health and safety risks around the new techniques; however, biotech companies and some scientists strongly disagree they’re a risk, and the resulting crops have major benefits, such higher nutritional value or drought and disease tolerance.