René CustersRené Custers is the Regulatory & responsible research manager at VIB. He has more than 25 years of experience in regulatory affairs, biosafety, and the societal and ethical aspects of modern biotechnology. He is an expert in the legislation and safety of GMOs and genome-edited organisms. He is a member of the Belgian Biosafety Advisory Council and secretary of EU-SAGE.


Regulatory conditions necessary for unlocking the genome editing potential


Genome editing is a more targeted breeding approach that can shorten the development time of crops with characteristics that are beneficial in the context of sustainability. The current EU GMO regulatory approach works prohibitively and prevents genome editing from delivering on its potential. The EC has taken the initiative to develop new legislation for crops resulting from targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis. But what should that legislation look like and how can it be ensured that it is science-based? Proportionality seems to be the magic word, but that can still be interpreted in many different ways. In the end, it is important that plants with the same changes, but made using different breeding techniques, are not treated differently. And from a socio-economic point of view, it is important that SMEs can use the technology and that genome editing can be applied to strengthen the diversity of the EU agricultural system.