The term ‘gene editing’ describes a set of techniques that allow scientists to add to, remove or alter the genetic make-up of living organisms. One of the gene editing tools is the CRISPR/Cas ‘gene scissors’, whose inventors were recently awarded the Nobel Prize. Scientists apply these techniques, for example, to study gene function in plants and animals and to develop gene therapy. In the agricultural sector, gene editing can be combined with older GM techniques to produce gene-edited plants and animals. The GM transformation technique of bacterial infection is used, for example, to deliver the gene-editing tool into the DNA of the plant cells that are to be ‘edited'.
In the EU, gene-edited organisms are subject to GMO regulations aimed at protecting people’s health and the environment from potential risks. But seed companies like Bayer argue that these regulations “block” gene editing and must be “reversed”. The organic sector, small farmers and environmental NGOs, as well as the Greens/EFA group, say GM regulations must be applied to ensure safety and respect farmers’ and consumers’ right to know. The European Commission will set out its views on the matter at the end of April.
In this online event, experts will respond to questions such as: How does gene editing work? What can it achieve? How does it compare with older-style genetic engineering technology? Who is promoting it and why? And what does it mean to maintain the EU’s regulatory framework or not?
- Claire Robinson, GMWatch
- Dr Michael Antoniou, King's College London
- Dr Fulya Batur, Kybele Consultancy
- Dr Léa Lugassy, Pour une Agriculture du Vivant
Green MEPs Eleonora Evi and Benoît Biteau are our hosts for this event. EN-DE-FR-IT Interpretation will be provided.