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EU-SAGE is a network representing 129 European plant science institutes and societies that have joined forces to provide information about genome editing and promote the development of European and EU member state policies that enable the use of genome editing for sustainable agriculture and food production. 

The trigger for the EU-SAGE network
In July 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union stated in its ruling in case c-528/16 that:
  1. organisms made using mutagenesis are genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and 
  2. organisms made using modern, targeted forms of mutagenesis do not fall under the article 3, Annex B exemption of European Directive 2001/18/EC (known as the GMO Directive).
Consequently, the European legislation is interpreted to mean that genome edited crops are subject to the GMO regulatory provisions, also in cases where the edit is not different from what is present in nature or can be achieved by conventional breeding methods.

Immediately after the ruling, scientists all over Europe formulated deep concerns on the consequences of this ruling, because regulating genome edited organisms as GMOs would de facto block the application of genome editing in agriculture and food. In October 2018, leading scientists representing more than 85 plant and life sciences research centers and institutes endorsed a first position paper, initiated by the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, that called upon European policy makers to safeguard innovation in plant science and agriculture. During 2019 this evolved into a network of 129 European plant science institutes and societies, which amongst others, wrote a letter to the European Commission and published an Open Letter on 25 July 2019 to once more call upon European policy makers and politicians to take appropriate action to safeguard genome editing for sustainable agriculture. This network is now called EU-SAGE, European Sustainable Agriculture through Genome Editing. The network is coordinated by the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology.

The documents produced by the EU-SAGE network are available on the EU-SAGE webpage.

Dirk Inzé, Scientific Director at VIB and coordinator of the EU-SAGE network: “The support we received for this initiative from plant scientists all over Europe has been overwhelming from the start. To me, it clearly illustrates the current dichotomy in Europe:  as European leaders in the field of plant sciences we are committed to bringing innovative and sustainable solutions to agriculture, but we are hindered by an outdated regulatory framework that is not in line with recent scientific evidence. With the EU-SAGE network we hope to promote evidence-informed policymaking in the EU, which is of crucial importance to us all. “