Research assignments that are being withdrawn, companies that are deciding to relocate their R&D departments outside Europe — it is gradually becoming clear that the decision by the European Court of Justice to treat CRISPR-Cas as a form of genetic modification is having far-reaching consequences. Including for WUR.
This summer, the European Court of Justice ruled that the technique CRISPR-Cas, which allows very precise changes to be made to the DNA of bacteria, plants and animals, should fall under the strict laws for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This means that crops that were improved using CRISPR-Cas have to undergo a time-consuming and expensive approval procedure before they can be grown or traded. In countries such as the US and Japan, CRISPR-Cas is not covered by that GMO procedure so plant breeders can now develop and market new varieties much faster there. The court’s decision will put the Dutch plant breeding sector at a disadvantage, concludes Ernst van den Ende, director of the Plant Sciences Group.