The Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS)

GeneSprout talks to the EU head of Biotechnology

On the 22nd of September, board member representatives of the GeneSprout Initiative Nikita Sajeev, Juriaan Rienstra, Gwen Swinnen, and Maarten Houben, met with Irene Sacristan Sanchez, head of the Unit for Biotechnology in the Directorate General Health and Food Safety of the European Commission and her team. This online meeting took place upon invitation by the Commission after the
GeneSprout Initiative had sent their open letter in response to the Commission study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). During the meeting, the GeneSprout Initiative shared valuable concerns that earlystage plant scientists have regarding the impact of the current EU legislation on their future plans and the pursuit of sustainable agriculture. They explained how their initiative is committed to increasing
public awareness on NGTs and to facilitating open dialogue on the role of innovations in sustainable. Irene Sacristan Sanchez noted the importance of our role in public engagement and the role that many stakeholders have in this respect. The GeneSprout Initiative expressed its interest to be actively involved in future conversations on the status of plants obtained by NGTs under EU law.

Last week, the Commission published a Roadmap wherein they outlined possible policy options for changing the current legislation on NGTs. The GeneSprout Initiative welcomes the public consultation on a legislative proposal for certain plants obtained by NGTs. This roadmap will be open for discussion until and everyone is invited to share their feedback on the proposed roadmap. Thisis the moment for the whole scientific community, including early-stage plant researchers to sharetheir opinion, concerns and ideas of how the ECJ ruling affected their research activities and futureplans, and what elements are important to consider in the roadmap for the future legislative proposal.
After the public consultation, the impact assessment will be launched, which will take approximately one year.

On the 29th of November the Commission will host a full day multi-stakeholder event hosted by Executive President Timmermans and EU Commissioner Kyriakides. Panel participants include speakers from policy bodies, stakeholders from the civil society and industry, and members of the scientific community. The Genesprout Initiative is invited to join the panel on empowering consumers to make well-informed choices about food products. GeneSprout Initiative has confirmed their participation because this topic fits within the scope of their science communication activities and their vision that the society needs to be able to make well-informed decisions.