European Parliament Votes To Support Proposal For The Regulation Of New Genomic Techniques

Published online: Feb 24, 2024 Articles
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San Diego -- Cibus, a leading agricultural technology company that develops and licenses plant traits to seed companies, welcomes the vote of the European Parliament on 7 February in favour of new legislation for New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). Cibus applauds the EU Parliament supporting a science-based approach developed following many years of discussion and engagement with stakeholders and expert groups.

The EU Parliament met 5-8 February in Strasbourg and, following a debate on Tuesday Feb 6, the Parliament voted in favour of the NGT legislation the following day. Parliamentary negotiators now have a mandate to engage in 3-way discussions with the EU Council and the European Commission to agree on the final text of the legislation prior to formal adoption.

The legislation is part of a package of measures designed to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and to strengthen the resilience of EU food systems. It describes a category of NGTs, classed as targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis, producing modifications that could be obtained in nature or by conventional breeding. These are determined to be ‘Conventional-like’ and, once verified, would be regulated in the same way as conventional varieties.

In addition to enabling EU growers to benefit from improved varieties, the proposed regulation would also help facilitate international trade by bringing EU policy closer to that of trading partners in North and South America, UK, India, Australia, and Japan.

MEP and rapporteur Jessica Polfjärd said of the vote, “Historic step forward: the European Parliament supports my proposal for sustainable use of new genomic techniques (NGT). A game changer for sustainable agriculture and a clear signal that we embrace science and support our farmers.”

“The parliamentary vote is a significant milestone in the EU legislative process providing a welcome boost to innovators particularly in academia and small and mid-sized enterprises developing NGT products that can contribute to a sustainable EU agri-food system,” commented Tony Moran, Senior Vice President of International Development and Government Affairs at Cibus.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of a sustainable global food supply system. The promise of gene editing is its ability to address major challenges of farming such as disease, insects and a globally changing environment with greater speed and precision with traits that are indistinguishable from conventional breeding. This vote continues a global alignment to regulate certain gene editing applications as conventional and to enable this revolution to help farmers,” stated Rory Riggs CEO of Cibus.

About The Cibus RTDS-Based High Throughput Breeding System

A key element of Cibus’ technology breakthrough is its High Throughput Breeding Process (referred to as the Trait Machine system). The Trait Machine process is a crop specific application of Cibus’ patented Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS). The proprietary technologies in RTDS integrate crop specific cell biology platforms with a series of gene editing technologies to enable a system of end-to-end crop specific precision breeding. It is the core technology platform for Cibus’ Trait Machine: the first standardized end-to-end semi-automated crop specific gene editing system that directly edits a seed company’s elite germplasm. Each Trait Machine process requires a crop specific cell biology platform that enables Cibus to edit a single cell from a customer’s elite germplasm and grow that edited cell into a plant with the Cibus edits. Cibus has Trait Machine platforms developed for canola and rice and has already begun transferring their elite germplasm with Cibus edits back to customers.

The traits from Cibus’ RTDS-based High Throughput Breeding System are indistinguishable from traits developed using conventional breeding or from nature. RTDS does not use any foreign DNA or transgenes. Under the European Commission current proposals, it is expected that products from Cibus’ RTDS gene editing platform such as its pod shatter reduction trait and Sclerotinia resistance traits for Canola and Winter Oilseed Rape would be considered ‘Conventional-like'.

Cibus believes that RTDS and the Trait Machine process represent the technological breakthrough in plant breeding that is the ultimate promise of plant gene editing: “High Throughput Gene Editing Systems operating as an extension of seed company breeding programs.”