On March 5th, 2019 Science for Democracy organised a “Give Crispr a chance” snack in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, to raise awareness around Crispr, a new breeding technique. Although it allows to grow more crops with less water, less land usage and less pesticides, the technique is illegal in the EU because of a ruling by the European Court of Justice which equated it with Genetically Modified Organisms.
The fact that GMOs are illegal for human consumption is a hypocrisy in and of itself, because their use is allowed to feed cattle that humans then eat. In addition, it simply means that GMO crops are imported from abroad instead of helping sustain EU farmers.
To avoid such a paradoxical situation to be repeated with Crispr, since its inception Science for Democracy has advocated for evidence-based rules around new breeding techniques. To demonstrate their safety, the snack with Crispr rice was organised in front of the European Parliament. Belgian authorities tried to stop the event, and summoned its organisers for questioning, which resulted in a 500€ fine.
Before the event, Science for Democracy had already supported a VIB position paper titled “European scientists unite to safeguard precision breeding for sustainable agriculture”, calling upon European policy makers to safeguard innovation in plant science and agriculture.
In addition, Science for Democracy supported the European Citizens’ Initiative Grow Scientific Progress, opposing the arbitrary ban of new breeding techniques, since the beginning.