Confronting the Gordian Knot

March 8, 2012

An array of approaches is becoming available for manipulating the genetic content of plants and animals. Such approaches are gaining attention from regulators, particularly in Europe, where the question is whether new technologies should fall under the same restrictive regulatory framework as plants modified using the traditional transgenic approaches. This is of central importance because restrictive European regulations have not only had pernicious effects on applied plant science throughout Europe, but have also been a factor in the closure of major R&D facilities of European agrochemical companies. Even if legislative loopholes could be found that would allow biotech plant products produced by new technologies to move forward outside of existing regulations, the Gordian knot binding European plant science through continuing policy failure and political timidity will remain uncut.