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New plant breeding techniques

The European Commission supports the need for continuous progress in plant breeding techniques, which can help to overcome some limitations of traditional breeding and enlarge the portfolio of products developed in the EU.

In order to take account of the scientific and technical developments in biotechnology, upon a request of National Competent Authorities, the Commission set up in 2007 a New Techniques working group to assess whether a number of new breeding techniques could fall or not within the scope of the GMO legislation. The following new breeding techniques have been considered by the Working Group:

  • Oligonucleotide Directed Mutagenesis (ODM)

  • Zinc Finger Nuclease Technology (ZFN) comprising ZFN-1, ZFN-2 and ZFN-3

  • Cisgenesis and Intragenesis

  • Grafting

  • Agro-infiltration

  • RNA-dependent DNA methylation (RdDM)

  • Reverse breeding

  • Synthetic genomics

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued two opinions on cisgenesis/intragenesis and Zinc Finger Nuclease 3, in terms of the risks they might pose and the applicability of the existing EFSA guidance documents on GM plants for their risk assessment.

See also the Joint Research Center's study (JRC)pdf on the potential of these technologies, their detection and monitoring.