VIB applies for Maize-edited field trials in the EU

Last month, researchers at VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology announced an important step forward in theĀ evolving EU regulatory environment by applying for 3 different field trials involving genome editing maizešŸŒ½. These field trials using CRISPRCas9 gene editing will focus on creating drought-resistant maize, enhancing plant resistance to environmental stress, and developing maize with improved digestibility.

Historically, EU legislationĀ has posed considerable challenges for the development and distribution of genetically modified (GM) and genome-edited (GE) crops, thereby limitingĀ innovation in plant variety development across Europe.Ā Even before the positive EU voting on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), there was aĀ growingĀ recognitionĀ of the importance of GE technology in agriculture.Ā While the EU registered only 10 GM field trials from 2013, theĀ period since 2018 has seen a registration of 21 GE field trialsĀ across the EU, led by Sweden (8), Belgium (7), Spain (4) and Denmark (2).

VIB’s pioneering efforts in genome editing should serve as an example for using this technology to improve sustainable agriculture. This initiative also highlights the need for more rational, science-based regulations that recognize the unique potential of genome editing.