Agriculture, biotech plants: waiting for confirmation from the EU for NGTs

First approval to regulate biotech in agriculture, now awaiting final approval from the EU regarding Tea, which can produce more resistant plants.

The first approval from Brussels for the regulation of biotechnologies in agriculture represents an important achievement. Now we await the final approval of the measure by the European Parliament by the end of the legislature“. These are the words of the Emilia-Romagna Agriculture Councillor, Alessio Mammi, regarding the approval in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament of the amending report on the regulation of new genomic techniques (NGTs) for generating more resistant “biotech plants”.

Cultivation of new varieties with NGTs

“NGTs are a simple, economical, accessible biotech technology that has found wide consensus even among industry associations, and precisely because of these characteristics it seems tailor-made to further enhance our agriculture: rich in typical varieties, niche crops, and small businesses,” explains Elena Sgaravatti, vice president of Assobiotec, the trade association representing companies active in the sector.

Indeed, NGTs, being able to generate plants resistant to pathogens, considerably reduce the use of agrochemicals and guarantee greater resilience to climatic events and fungal pathogens, for example.

A new regulation could therefore authorize the cultivation of new varieties obtained from NGTs. The measure fits within the framework of the green transition and the reduction of agrochemicals. The provision could come during the plenary session of the EU parliament.

To ensure the productivity and sustainability of agriculture,” adds Mammi, “new genomic techniques are fundamental. These are innovative techniques that can make an essential contribution to addressing the challenges of the green transition, but also as an indispensable tool against plant diseases and climate change, which already today alone explain between 20% and 50% of agricultural yield fluctuations“.

Indeed, “Biotechnologies are already authorized in several countries and without specific legislation from the European Union, research and investments could be attracted precisely by non-European countries.”

Positive result also for Assosementi

Assosementi (Italian Seed Association), a trade organization representing the seed industry, expressed satisfaction for the vote of the Environment Committee on the Tea Regulation.

This decision,” comments Alberto Lipparini, director of the association representing Italian seed companies, “supports innovation by supporting the transition to a more sustainable production system. We have finally reached the last mile of a journey that began almost ten years ago and that can lead to a new green revolution for Italian and European agriculture. It is our duty to thank all those who have supported the importance of these tools and supported the new regulation that clarifies the difference between plants obtained with these techniques and GMOs,” Lipparini continued. An aspect highlighted in recent days also by 37 Nobel laureates and over 1,500 scientists who have signed an open letter to MEPs to underline the key role that NGTs can play for the future of agriculture“.

Lipparini concludes: “Our hope is that a final agreement on the Regulation can be reached by the end of this European legislature. We expect that the vote in the February plenary session could be the final step that will allow farmers to have full access to innovation and to address emergencies related to climate change and problems caused by new pathogens. In this scenario, we hope that there will also be room for the renewal of the possibility of field experimentation of products obtained through NGTs, to allow Italy to remain competitive and respond with innovative approaches to the challenges that agriculture already faces today“.