On Tuesday 17th October, in a landmark gathering of distinguished panellists and esteemed guests attending Euroseeds Assembly General, the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides delivered a speech via video message, delving into the new genomic techniques (NGTs) and plant reproductive material (PRM) proposals released back in July. During her speech, the Commissioner shared a vision for a sustainable future, emphasizing the pivotal role of ecosystems in this endeavour.
She highlighted that at the core of these initiatives lies a profound recognition of the significance of seeds in agriculture. Discussions centered on leveraging new genomic techniques and plant reproductive material to bolster agricultural innovation while maintaining stringent safety standards for food production and consumption methods.
Concerning NGTs, the EU Commissioner stated that:
New genomic techniques have the potential to speed ahead agricultural innovation. It is important that technological advances benefit society and the environment, while maintaining high safety standards. Accessible, affordable plants obtained using NGTs can bring all-round benefits:
– supporting farmers;
– helping diversify our food system;
– boosting competitiveness; and
– satisfying consumer calls for more nutritious, more sustainable products.
Moreover, the proposed regulation on PRM emerges as a pivotal tool in striking a balance between various interests:
Stronger sustainability requirements for new varieties will give farmers access to seeds better adjusted and more resistant to challenges. We propose extending these requirements to varieties of vegetables and fruit plants.
There may indeed be additional costs, but to have suitable varieties available to meet future challenges, and to avoid far higher future costs for farmers and society as a whole, we need to act now.
Additionally, EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides mentioned that the proposal includes provisions for a two-year transition period to acclimate to the new requirements, aligning them with specific agro-ecological conditions. Moreover, it introduces measures for the registration of organic varieties with adjusted uniformity standards, promoting market access and advancing the EU’s ambitious target of 25% organic farmland.
She concluded her speech by commenting that incorporating conservation measures and promoting locally adapted varieties will be instrumental in safeguarding and enhancing the genetic diversity of cultivated crops, benefiting breeders across the spectrum.