Planting the seeds of tomorrow: European Commission unveils game-changing proposals for plant breeding innovation

July 5, 2023

Plant reproductive material


EU Farm to Fork strategy


European seed sector


Plant breeding innovation

The EU Commission unveiled its proposals on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) and Plant Reproductive Material (PRM) today, which will have a significant impact on Europe’s seed companies, farmers, and vegetable growers. The NGT proposal suggests categorizing plants resulting from targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis separately from transgenic GMOs. It introduces a notification process for “conventional-like” category 1 plants to confirm their status.

Commenting on the proposal, Garlich von Essen, Secretary General of Euroseeds said:

‘’We welcome the differentiation of conventional-like NGTs from the outdated and practically unworkable approval requirements of transgenic GMOs. This is a prerequisite for a proportionate framework adapted to different profiles of these plants. But this notification process needs to be efficient and be based on clear scientific criteria to avoid that what should be a simple administrative process becomes politicised and inconclusive. Only then we will truly enable the development of improved NGT plant varieties across all breeding businesses, specifically including the typical European SMEs and public institutes, and create real opportunities to address the broad diversity of crops and traits.”

In addition, Euroseeds supports the distinction but raises concerns about inconsistencies and restrictions, such as the prohibition of NGT-derived plants in organic farming.

With regard to the provisions of the PRM proposal, Euroseeds welcomes the maintenance of key elements of the existing legislation are maintained, emphasizing the importance of identity, performance, quality, and health guarantees. However, concerns remain about exemptions and lower quality requirements that could undermine fair rules and quality assurance. Euroseeds insists on a practical implementation of sustainability requirements that doesn’t limit the availability of improved varieties. Moreover, Euroseeds believes that ensuring access to high-quality seed of improved plant varieties is crucial for achieving food security and sustainability goals.

Concluding, Garlich von Essen commented:

“This is an important moment for Europe. We now have two proposals that provide the EU with a choice of what innovative technologies and what products we want to harness to make us more resilient and sustainable in ensuring our food security. Assuring farmers’ access to high-quality seed of improved plant varieties that are the result of top-in-class science and innovation will be key to achieve this common goal”.