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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

A comparison of the EU regulatory approach to directed mutagenesis with that of other jurisdictions, consequences for international trade and potential steps forward

Eriksson, Dennis; Kershen, Drew; Nepomuceno, Alexandre; Pogson, Barry J.; Prieto, Humberto; Purnhagen, Kai; Smyth, Stuart; Wesseler, Justus; Whelan, Agustina


A special regulatory regime applies to products of recombinant nucleic acid modifications. A ruling from the European Court of Justice has interpreted this regulatory regime in a way that it also applies to emerging mutagenesis techniques. Elsewhere regulatory progress is also ongoing. In 2015, Argentina launched a regulatory framework, followed by Chile in 2017 and recently Brazil and Colombia. In March 2018, the USDA announced that it will not regulate genome-edited plants differently if they could have also been developed through traditional breeding. Canada has an altogether different approach with their Plants with Novel Traits regulations. Australia is currently reviewing its Gene Technology Act. This article illustrates the deviation of the European Union's (EU's) approach from the one of most of the other countries studied here. Whereas the EU does not implement a case-by-case approach, this approach is taken by several other jurisdictions. Also, the EU court ruling adheres to a process-based approach while most other countries have a stronger emphasis on the regulation of the resulting product. It is concluded that, unless a functioning identity preservation system for products of directed mutagenesis can be established, the deviation results in a risk of asynchronous approvals and disruptions in international trade.


CJEU; directed mutagenesis; genetically modified organism (GMO); genome editing; precision breeding

Published in

New Phytologist
2019, volume: 222, number: 4, pages: 1673-1684

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
Kershen, Drew
University of Oklahoma - Norman
Nepomuceno, Alexandre
Brazilian Agr Res Cooperat Embrapa
Pogson, Barry J.
Australian National University
Prieto, Humberto
Inst Invest Agr
Purnhagen, Kai
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Smyth, Stuart
University of Saskatchewan
Wesseler, Justus
Wageningen University and Research
Whelan, Agustina
Natl Univ Quilmes

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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