Wetenschap - 25 oktober 2012

Cabinet: Cisgenesis just as safe as traditional breeding

Cisgenesis should not be subjected to European legislation for genetically modified crops, says the Dutch parliament. This new breeding technique is just as safe as classical breeding.

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Foto: .

This is stated by Joop Atsma, state secretary for the environment, in a letter to the Lower House of the Dutch parliament. With this, he supports the motion taken by the cabinet not to regulate cisgenesis (breeding plants with genes from the same variety) as strictly as transgenesis (using genes from other varieties). With this relaxation, the mandatory risk evaluation will not apply to cisgenetic crops, such as the cisgenetic potato developed by Wageningen UR.
Whether the rules will actually be relaxed depends on the European Commission, which will take a stand soon.
Several years ago, Atsma's ministry had in fact proposed that cisgenesis should come under GMO legislation, partly due to a recommendation from Rikilt. That had led to disputes. Therefore, Atsma went to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for advice. In February, EFSA declared that cisgenetic products are just as safe as traditionally cultivated crops.
This does not necessarily mean that the European Commission will exempt cisgenetic products from GMO legislation. It might even lead to stricter measures for traditional breeding. As the Dutch government is against 'over-regulating', it will plead for flexibility in the European context, says Atsma.
Niaba, the Dutch biotechnology association, is happy with this standpoint. Niaba is all for reducing unnecessary legislation and rules concerning biotechnology in the top sectors. Dutch breeding companies also feel that cisgenesis is just as safe as traditional breeding methods. Greenpeace and the organic farming sector are against flexibility. Atsma says that the freedom of choice for organic breeders and consumers to reject transgenetic products will not be endangered.

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