Associations emphasize EU need for innovation in potato breeding

Published: July 2, 2021

Associations potato breeding 1
Four associations count on support for immediate policy action based on the conclusions of the Commission NGT study.

Four associations have co-signed a joint statement on New Genomic Techniques in potato breeding.

In their joint statement, Copa-Cogeca, Europatat, Euroseeds and Starch Europe express their support for the conclusions of a recent Commission study stating the current GMO legislation in the EU faces clear implementation challenges and is no longer fit for purpose.

Sustainability of the potato value chain
‘We strongly welcome the Commission’s intention to initiate a short-term policy action on plants derived from targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis. We hope that such a policy initiative will create a more enabling and innovation-friendly environment for products resulting from these breeding methods, while maintaining the high standards of EU food and feed production’, the statement reads. The co-signing associations believe that, in the context of climate change and the sustainability of the food system in general and more specifically of the potato value chain, New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) can potentially provide solutions.

Optimise the use of genetic variability
‘In the EU, the number of active substances for crop protection has drastically decreased over the past few years. NGTs like genome editing lead the way for trait improvement in potato breeding and have a role to play in reducing the need to apply pesticides. Breeding disease-resistant varieties therefore becomes increasingly important’, they argue. ‘Allowing breeders to use the most efficient tools, such as genome editing, will be essential to optimise the use of genetic variability and existing genetics. Ensuring that farmers as well as all other actors in the potato value chain have access to the advantages of and progress made by NGTs in improved varieties, will contribute to more sustainable food systems’, is one of their conclusions. Given that discussions on the status of NGTs have been underway for more than ten years and have now been summarised in the outcome of the NGT study, the four associations count on support from the European Commission, European Parliament and Member States, for immediate policy action based on the conclusions of this study.