The European Parliamentary Research Service and its Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) published an in-depth analysis on new breeding tools and their potential role for the EU food system.
Acknowledging that the international food system is facing important challenges and must become more sustainable, the report analyses how plant breeding innovation can contribute to this, for instance, by developing crop varieties that require fewer inputs.
One new important tool, genome editing, that enables the targeted alteration of a few DNA letters within the existing genetic blueprint of an organism, is of specific interest in this context. The report nicely and with useful illustrations explains the tools and technology itself, how it works, how it can be applied and what kind of regulatory challenges are related to it.
The report also provides context by explaining the new breeding tools as well as the genetic modifications (mutations) that can be introduced by using these tools in comparison to conventional breeding and the spontaneous genetic alterations that occur in crops.
It also considers regulatory developments around the world with a growing number of countries exempting conventional-like plants resulting from those new breeding tools from restrictive biotech regulations.