A European Court ruling widely interpreted to mean that all gene-edited organisms are GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) may not be as prescriptive as many first assumed.
In the ruling of July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed that organisms obtained by newer methods of directed mutagenesis such as genome editing are not excluded from the scope of the EU GMO directive.
Following the ruling many in the scientific community assumed that it meant that all genome edited organisms are to be treated as GMOs under the GMO Directive. But this new article, published today in the European Journal of Risk Regulation, challenges this prescriptive interpretation.
A key factor in interpreting the ruling, the authors argue, has been determining whether organisms fall under the GMO definition in the first place, because if they do not, then the exemption – and therefore the ruling – is not relevant to them. The EU definition of a GMO is where: ‘the genetic material of the resulting organisms has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.’
The European Commission, at the request of the European Union, is currently undertaking a study regarding the status of novel genomic techniques under Union Law which is due to be published in April 2021.