On the 29th of April, in Brussels, one of the most relevant news items that could mark, without any doubt, the future of the sector over the next few decades occurred, although, from the journalistic point of view, it has not been included in the media with the significance it deserves.
I am referring to the fact that the European Commission presented a document that has restarted the debate on genetic edition, known as CRISPR/Cas 9.
In order to discover the magnitude of everything represented by this new technique, we just have to explain that the 2020 Nobel Chemistry Prize was granted to the researchers Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for this development. I don’t believe that the Swedish Academy gives out its prizes lightly.
This technology, the use of which benefits the entire food chain, is, according to the scientific community, a necessary tool to overcome the challenges that the Old Continent will face in 2030: the Green Deal and the ‘From Farm to Fork’ strategy.
However, we have lost two years, almost three, since the top European Court passed the sentence that will equate genetic edition with transgenic productions, all of this under the umbrella of an obsolete legislation from 2001. Once again, science is moving forward faster than the Law and, meanwhile, Europe runs the risk of letting a high-speed train go past, which has stations in other countries around us.
We have not got much time for an analysis that could mean a new setback or the taking to court of a matter that moves from a scientific debate to a political one. It is not a question of losing the race for knowledge or business competitiveness. Europe urgently needs to set up a regulation framework that covers the new technologies.
What are we waiting for? For others to do it? Or for the multinationals with head offices in Spain to start looking for new locations because they cannot work here? Europe is taking a gamble, but we are taking a larger one, because the agrifood sector is the second one with the greatest economic weight in our battered economy.