EC Chief Scientific Advisors: A Scientific Perspective on the Regulatory Status of Products Derived from Gene Editing and the Implications for the GMO Directive (see background information).

The advisors conclude that the GMO Directive should be revised to reflect current knowledge and scientific evidence, and as part of a broad dialogue with relevant stakeholders and the public at large:

“There is a need to improve EU GMO legislation to be clear, evidence-based, implementable, proportionate and flexible enough to cope with future advances in science and technology in this area. To achieve this, we recommend revising the existing GMO Directive to reflect current knowledge and scientific evidence, in particular on gene editing and established techniques of genetic modification. This should be done with reference to other legislation relevant to food safety and environmental protection.

This follows the European Court of Justice judgement of 25.7.2018 on mutagenesis (Press ReleaseRuling in EN).

Following the European Court of Justice ruling, that plants obtained by recent techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing mutagenesis are regulated as GMO, the VIB statement addresses the huge problems Europe will face in plant breeding in the future. EPSO anticipates the same problems as depicted in the statement, which is in line with our first reaction, and will publish a full statement in November.

SoAR (Supporters of Agricultural Research) published “Developing Global Priorities for Plant Research” report describing five “approaches” to addressing the greatest challenges facing agriculture in the 21st Century, including increasing production while reducing inputs in a changing climate.

It emphasizes how the advent of new tools and technologies – such as CRISPR, computer modeling, and sensors – have positioned researchers to deliver unprecedented solutions. The report also stresses the importance of employing a “system of systems” and “interdisciplinary” approach as well as concentrating on “crop-agnostic” research in which discoveries can be readily translated across a wide range of species. This critical work, however, will rely on redoubling recruitment and training of the next generation of researchers.

The report presents a concise set of plant-focused research recommendations to inform the decision-making of agricultural research funders. It is the result of a series of interviews and an in-person meeting with twelve leading plant scientists from Europe, China, and the United States.

European Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap 2018 published, identifying 8 projects with ESFRI Landmark status and 6 new projects entering the roadmap.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2018 setting out actions to achieve the goal by 2030 and confirming a rise in world hunger: the number of people who suffer from hunger has been growing over the past three years, returning to levels from almost a decade ago. Multiple forms of malnutrition are evident in many countries: adult obesity is growing even as forms of undernutrition persist. Climate variability and extremes are key drivers behind this rise, together with conflict and economic downturns.