The EU regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Bruetschy, C,  Transgenic Research,  28:169-174. 2019.

The European Union (EU) legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aims to ensure a high level of protection for human, animal and environmental health and a well-functioning EU internal market. The framework regulates the release of GMOs into the environment and their use as, or in, food and feed. It has three main pillars: pre-market authorisation based on a prior risk assessment, traceability and labelling. Within this legal framework, the EU has authorised the placing on the market of 118 GMOs so far. These have been obtained through long-standing techniques of genetic modification, namely transgenesis. Following the adoption of the GMO legislation, new techniques of genetic modification, including new mutagenesis techniques, have been developed, which have raised questions regarding the applicability of the GMO legislation and attracted a lot of attention from stakeholders and the general public. This article provides an overview of EU GMO legislation and implementation of the EU Court of Justice ruling on organisms obtained by mutagenesis techniques, issued in July 2018. It also updates on the recent initiatives by the European Commission and EU Member States on new developments in biotechnology. The manuscript is based on the author’s contribution at the OECD Conference on Genome Editing, Applications in Agriculture, Implications for Health, Environment and Regulation held in Paris on 28-29 June 2018. It is complemented with updated information.