At its today’s sitting, the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) approved by consensus Estonia’s positions on the Regulation that allows to breed and cultivate in the European Union plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques and produce food and feed from them.
Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee Liisa Pakosta pointed out that plant breeding was particularly important for Estonia. “We also have several strong actors in this field, like the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Polli Horticultural Research Centre and the University of Tartu. Scientists have invented new ways of breeding plant varieties that imitate nature itself and are already being used by the rest of the world,” Pakosta said.
“The possibility of breeding new plant varieties so that the genetic modification techniques banned in the EU are not used, but opportunities are found to breed plants in a way similar to natural cross-breeding or random mutations, is very important for Estonian farmers and forest growers,” the Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee said. “Such work by scientists could relieve our children of some of the current worries, from withering of fir seedlings to the need to use dangerous chemicals to control pests. Genetic modification will continue to be banned, but, in simple terms, pushing of what happens in nature itself will be allowed. I am happy that all political parties supported this innovation, which is necessary for Estonia.”
Pakosta added that one of Estonia’s aims at the negotiations held in the European Union was to also find suitable solutions for organic production, as the new breeding techniques developed by scientists could be useful in the organic sector as well. “At the moment, organic production is excluded not for substantial reasons, but because there are opposing views among organic producers about the new breeding technologies. Estonian organic producers were not against the draft regulation during the proceedings,” Pakosta added.
At the sitting, it was noted that the achievements of science and innovation had created precision breeding techniques that could be used to breed plants in the way it would occur in nature, or varieties that were considered equivalent to conventional plants. It was pointed out that existing EU legislation was outdated and the regulation dealt with innovative methods of plant breeding that had emerged since 2001.
According to Estonia’s positions, it is correct to consider the plant varieties obtained through new breeding techniques that can also be obtained naturally or by conventional breeding methods equivalent to varieties obtained by classical plant breeding, and to treat them separately from genetically modified organisms. The characteristics that contribute to sustainability, like resistance to diseases, climate adaptation and enhanced yield, are important in conventional as well as new breeding techniques.
Head of the Research and Development Department Mai-Liis Palginõmm and Chief Specialist Kadri Just of the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture participated in the discussion of this agenda item and gave an overview of the initiative.
The European Union Affairs Committee, in line with the opinion of the Rural Affairs Committee, decided to approve the positions of the Government on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques.
For more information, please contact: Liisa Pakosta, phone +372 502 6191