Brussels, 25 July 2018: The European Seed Association sees today’s Court of Justice ruling in Case C-528/16 as a missed opportunity for agricultural innovation in the EU.


The EU Court of Justice ruling on the regulatory status of plants resulting from some of the latest plant breeding methods is widely seen as decisive for their practical take-up by European researchers, breeders and farmers. It is a watershed moment for the EU’s agri-food chain.

Contrary to the Opinion of Advocate General, it now seems that the Court’s decision subjects [almost all] plants obtained with these methods to the EU’s regular GMO legislation with its prohibitive costs and political uncertainty of final market approval.

 “It is now likely that much of the potential of these innovative methods will be lost for Europe – with significant negative economic and environmental consequences. That strikes a serious blow to European agriculture and plant science.”, says Garlich von Essen, ESA Secretary General.

Latest breeding innovations such as CRISPR CAS are widely seen as critical tools to help breeders and farmers to do more with less inputs: less water, less fertilizers, less pesticides, as e.g. requested by the post-2020 CAP. They are also used to develop improved varieties that better meet consumer demands by providing more nutritious, tastier, healthier, more convenient and more varied plant-based food.

A more detailed analysis of the ruling still needs to be done; but the initial view of the seed sector is a bleak one:

“While other parts of the world go ahead with these innovations without unnecessary overregulation, Europe’s breeders and farmers will once again loose out, without a chance to explore the huge potential and benefits of these plant breeding innovations in practice.’’



  • Original article of ESA (link)


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