European Citizensâ?? Initiative â??Grow Scientific Progress: Crops Matter!

One year after the European Court of Justice decision on new plant breeding techniques (NBPTs), a group of students pursuing degrees in Life Sciences, dissatisfied with the outcome, have submitted a legislative proposal asking for an update of Directive 2001/18/EC. The proposal was submitted in the form of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a unique instrument of democracy that allows European citizens to have a voice over European political issues.  The objective is to urge the European Commission to act and amend the legal framework governing the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The ECI, under the name “Grow Scientific Progress: Crops Matter!” (GSP), acknowledges that the Directive, as present, is not suitable for genome editing advancements and calls for its revision in order to enable the European Union to be more progressive and a more sustainable leading force. In particular, the initiative advocates for a clear distinction between organisms obtained through new mutagenesis techniques and conventional GMOs. It further wants to facilitate the authorization procedure for organisms obtained through NPBTs that carry only natural existing traits and are indistinguishable from crops obtained through traditional breeding.  Ultimately, the ECI aims at generating democratic debate around NPBTs and representing citizens who support responsible scientific progress. GSP is currently campaigning throughout the European countries to reach citizens and get their support by gathering no less than one million signatures.

Author(s): Lavinia Scudiero

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