A new report from the Breakthrough Institute and the Alliance for Science provides an in-depth analysis of the potential economic impact linked to the European Union’s current regulatory approach to new genomic techniques (NGT). The report, titled “The €3 Trillion Cost of Saying No: How the EU Risks Falling Behind in the Bioeconomy Revolution,” discusses the burgeoning global bioeconomy, with a focus on the role of NGTs in various sectors, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals and plant proteins. .
The study highlights that existing EU regulations, established in 2001, classify genetically modified crops as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which influences the relocation of genetics startups and affects bioeconomic progress in Europe. It acknowledges the European Commission’s July 2023 proposals to update the NGT regulations, noting the opposition these proposals have encountered from various NGOs, political parties and member states.
Dr Emma Kovak, senior food and agriculture analyst at the Breakthrough Institute, said: “The EU is falling further behind as countries around the world continue to adopt new regulations that support use of gene editing technologies, which are an essential part of the growth of the bioeconomy. . By saying no to scientific innovation, the EU is missing out on a wide range of benefits, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and food production.”
The report provides a detailed examination of the potential growth that NGTs could bring to the agriculture, materials, chemicals and energy, and human health sectors. It provides estimates of the potential economic benefits of using NGTs from 2020 to 2040, suggesting that non-adoption of NGTs could result in an annual economic opportunity cost of €171 billion to €335 billion for the EU. The report further predicts that this amount could reach more than €3 trillion over a decade.
Dr Sheila Ochugboju, Director of the Alliance for Science, commented: “This report details the high cost of denying scientific innovations. It is also vitally important to consider the impact of EU regulatory decision-making on countries in the Global South, where an overly cautious approach can hamper efforts to tackle food insecurity and reduce poverty. “.
The paper also reviews the 2018 European Court of Justice ruling that subjects NGT-modified organisms to the 2001 EU GMO legislation, a regulation established before the advent of precise methods of editing genes like CRISPR. The report discusses the scientific community’s concerns regarding the EU’s position on NGT, particularly in light of global advances in the bioeconomy.
In addition, the report mentions opinions from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and scientific advisory groups, which suggest that NGTs do not introduce new safety risks compared to conventional breeding and techniques. established genomics.
The European Commission’s July 2023 proposal is presented, detailing its aim to classify plants developed using NGT into two categories based on the extent of their genomic modifications.
In its conclusion, the report highlights the economic considerations for the EU linked to the adoption or non-adoption of the NGTs.
To read the full report and its analysis, Click here.