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European Commission’s positive conclusion on continued use of CRISPR for a competitive and green future

On 29 April 2021, the European Commission published a study into new genomic techniques and the consequences of the European Court of Justice’s July 2018 judgement, which essentially made it impossible to continue development of the new techniques within the EU. The report concludes that the Nobel prize-awarded CRISPR technique is an important tool for the future of sustainable food systems, and that our current GMO legislation must be modernised. The next step is a study of how the new legislation should be designed.

Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter förening u.p.a. takes a very positive view of this conclusion from the European Commission’s study, and of the fresh optimism that it will now potentially be possible to use the CRISPR technique. The EU Commission’s position means Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter will now be able to commercialise the efforts it has made in this field within the EU.

“We have invested considerable resources in the CRISPR technique because we see the opportunity to develop future climate-smart food products. The judgement issued by the EU court in July 2018 was a setback for us, but we have continued to believe in a future where it would also be possible to use these techniques within the EU. The report from the EU Commission is important, and we’re very optimistic about this development”, says Hans Berggren, CEO of Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter, förening u.p.a..

Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter began its drive to use the CRISPR technique to develop new, climate-smart varieties of seed potatoes in 2014. The new varieties are now being cultivated for the second year and preparations are being made to move on to commercialisation of new starch products. “We won’t merely be offering our customers new, climate-smart products – we’ll also be reinforcing our competitiveness and increasing profitability for ourselves, our business partners and our customers, who will gain access to a starch that increases the value of their products”, says Hans Berggren.

In 2020, together with researchers and SLU Holding, Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter formed the start-up company SolEdits AB. The company’s business concept is to expand use of CRISPR to develop new potato varieties, and to make the technique available to all interested parties in the potato business.

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