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July 26th, 2018 /

Many European scientists cheered back in January when it seemed the court of the European Union would ease its restrictions on gene-editing technology in food. In a 15,000-word opinion, an advisor to the European Court of Justice suggested that gene-edited crops should not face the same stiff regulations as genetically modified organisms—as long as they don’t contain foreign DNA. The opinion was thought to be a step forward for European academic scientists who are trying to improve plant growth, resistance, and nutrition in everything from corn to grapes. But today, the full court put that opinion aside to rule that Crispr gene editing should face the same tough rules as GMOs.

Experts say the court’s ruling will chill research on gene-edited crops both in Europe, as well as in developing nations in Africa. “This proves how stupid the European system is for regulating GMOs,” says Stefan Jansson, professor of plant physiology at Sweden’s Ümea University. “Many of us have tried to change things in last 10 years with meager success. When it comes to things like this, people listen to organizations like Greenpeace more than they listen to scientists.” Read more