Select Committee on European Communities Second Report - Written Evidence



  One of the major barriers to efficient application of biotechnology for the improvement of many of our major crop species has been difficulties with most important elite genetic lines (i.e., the progenitors of commercial varieties) to regenerate fertile plants in tissue culture. Developers of genetically modified crops have, generally, been forced to transform non-elite lines that are amendable to regeneration. Elite lines must then be "converted" by crossing in the transgene followed by several generations of back-crossing. The resulting converted elite line must be re-tested to ensure performance has not been imparied. But back-crossing still results in a significant delay in bringing the new transgenic variety to the market.

  More and more of the most important elite lines of germplasm are, however, now proving amendable to transformation and regeneration (i.e., elite transformation). This offers developers the opportunity to introduce a new trait directly into many of the current leading commercial varieties, without any undesirable linked genetic material, resulting in more predictable performance, reduced need for testing and accelerated product development.

  However, such elite transformations will place significant additional burdens on the current regulatory oversight systems that are based on "event by event" regulation. Instead of reviewing and approving one event that will be used to develop many varieties, each new variety will constitute a new event that must be reviewed. The consequent resource implications for both regulators and developers are obvious. Unless a more flexible approach to product approval is adopted, for example, a gene by gene approach, the regulatory system will become a serious impediment to product development and to Europe's competitiveness in agricultural plant biotechnology.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999