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Parliamentary questions
PDF 104kWORD 16k
12 July 2016
P-005677-16
Question for written answer P-005677-16
to the Commission
Rule 130
Martin Häusling (Verts/ALE)

 Subject:  EU position on synthetic biology in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity
 Answer in writing 

Synthetic biology is the next generation of genetic engineering techniques and represents an extreme version of earlier genetic engineering techniques used to produce GMO plants, animals, micro-organisms and foodstuffs. Among other things, synthetic biology allows for the production of entirely novel organisms, and of novel traits that cannot be produced using conventional breeding techniques.

None of the EU institutions have, to our knowledge, an official position on synthetic biology, or even an official definition of the term. This despite the fact formal discussions on the issue of synthetic biology were initiated in 2015 in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (the Cartagena and Nagoya protocols). The Commission and the EU Presidency are taking part in these discussions, which aim to provide a definition of synthetic biology, and to elaborate guidelines for risk assessments of the different techniques the term applies to.

In the light of the above, the Commission is asked to answer the following:
1. What is its negotiating mandate in these discussions, and on what basis — official positions, texts or reports — is it relying on for this task?
2. Has the European Food Safety Authority been given any mandate in this regard?
3. How does it plan to inform Parliament and civil society about this issue, and involve them in the debates regarding it, and how does it intend to use their participation to formulate an EU position?
Avis juridique