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Court of Justice of the European Union: Organisms Obtained by Mutagenesis are GMOs

Luxembourg, July 25, 2018 - Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union released its judgement in Case C-528/16 ruling that: - organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs within the meaning of the GMO Directive; - such organisms are subjects to the obligations and restrictions laid down by that Directive. The only exemption specified by the CJEU applies to organisms obtained by means of certain mutagenesis techniques, which have conventionally been used in a number of applications and have a long-standing safety record. Nevertheless, the Court further stated that the EU Member States are free to subject also such organisms to the obligations laid down by the GMO Directive and in accordance with EU laws or to other obligations, hence opening a door to further legislation and restrictions on the use and trade with such organisms on the Member State level, for instance in regard of the free movement of goods.

The Court also elaborated that the use of mutagenesis techniques might prove to carry similar risks that result from the production and release of a GMO obtained through transgenesis since the direct modification on the genetic material of an organism through mutagenesis makes it possible to obtain the same effects as the introduction of a foreign gene into the organism. The action in the case was originally brought forward by Confédération paysanne together with eight other associations before the Counseil d'Ètat in France in order to contest the French legislation which exempted organisms obtained by in vitro mutagenesis techniques from the obligations imposed by the GMO Directive. CIOPORA will analyse the CJEU judgement in Case C-528/16 and will provide its members with further insights. Meanwhile, we would like to invite you to download the respective CJEU press release no 111/2018 and the full text of the Court judgement.

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