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Parliamentary questions
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21 October 2016
Question for written answer P-007952-16
to the Commission
Rule 130
Maria Heubuch (Verts/ALE)

 Subject:  EU position on gene drives
 Answer in writing 

Rapid advances in genetic engineering, such as the development of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, have enabled the development of so-called ‘gene drives’. These are genetically modified organisms that are designed to spread a genetic modification through entire natural populations of sexually-reproducing plant or animal species, in order to alter or eradicate these populations. In June 2016, the US National Academies of Sciences concluded that ‘there is insufficient evidence available at this time to support the release of gene-drive modified organisms’. The matter of gene drives is being investigated by an expert group of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is likely to be discussed at the upcoming conference of parties in Cancun, Mexico.

1. In view of the precautionary principle, does the Commission consider that the level of scientific knowledge regarding the functioning of CRISPR-based gene drives and the current risk assessment methodologies are adequate to assess the biosafety implications of a field release or accidental laboratory escape of such organisms?

2. What measures is the Commission planning within the Cartagena Protocol to prevent spontaneous, non-authorised transboundary movements of gene-drive modified organisms?

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