CRISPR wheat in the pipeline: Genetic engineering must remain recognisable

- An alliance of plant breeding businesses has announced the development of a wheat line using CRISPR genetic engineering, which is said to be less sensitive to fungal attack. Risk assessment and labelling as genetic engineering should be obvious reactions. Genetic engineering must remain recognisable as such.

Alexander Hissting, Managing Director of Verband Lebensmittel Ohne Gentechnik (VLOG) commented as follows: “It remains to be seen how well this new CRISPR creation will ultimately function. If it functions as well as has been promised and there are no adverse effects on health and the environment, there should be no problem obtaining EU genetic engineering approval for this wheat. This will require labelling as genetic engineering, which should also be obvious. Genetic engineering must remain recognisable as such.

Anyone who wishes to make CRISPR bread palatable to people must not try to do so by disguising the product – That can only backfire. Instead, producers and those who one day wish to cultivate CRISPR wheat must convince consumers of its advantages. Consumers have the right to transparency and freedom of choice.

With our recently introduced testing method, we have demonstrated it is possible to detect and therefore control and label plants produced with the “new” genetic engineering methods such as CRISPR. For EU approval, producers must provide the necessary information and the detection method itself, so that transparency and traceability are guaranteed. Therefore, the announced CRISPR wheat is another argument for maintaining the existing EU genetic engineering provisions and not weakening them.”

Development of the world’s first open source method for detecting a plant produced by the new genetic engineering process

VLOG statement regarding the Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety’s specialist announcement on the detection method for genome-editing of rapeseed/canola