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Europe launches new genomic techniques

Европа лансира новите геномни техники

Nearly thirty Nobel laureates have joined more than 1,000 scientists in calling on members of the European Parliament to adopt science-based gene editing technology.

New genomic techniques (NGTs), they wrote in a petition, "hold enormous potential for sustainable agriculture, increased food security and innovative medical solutions."

The EU's proposal for a regulation on NGT, while a welcome step forward towards understanding and embracing the great benefits that agriculture and civil society could derive from the introduction of the technology in crop production, also raises a number of reasonable questions which, for now remain unanswered, and have the potential to undermine the effectiveness of the new regulation.

While many European farmers, stakeholders and NGOs are attracted to this innovation and recognize its huge benefits, others remain skeptical.

The stakes are huge. According to proponents of the regulation, failure to introduce NGTs in Europe will not only harm European farmers who seek to do more with less and improve their commitment to sustainability, but will also inadvertently affect African farmers who depend on trade with Europe.

"What we absolutely cannot afford is a repeat of the disastrous rejection of GMOs in Europe, a safe technology that transformed agriculture in America and much of Asia, where they allowed farmers to grow more staple foods, to fight with pests and diseases and to build climate resilience in their crops," said Ursula von der Leyen.

In recent months, various bodies within the EU have considered the promise of an NGT, but their deliberations have led to further uncertainty.

The proposal is now in the hands of the Council and will depend on the support or rejection of Europe's leaders, which will determine whether Europe's transition to more sustainable food systems will happen in this way.

According to many, NGTs give us a chance to hit the reset button and embrace technology that can make agriculture more climate-friendly, more sustainable and more productive.

According to others, it will open a "Pandora's box" and push us into a risky and unknown future.

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