AgriFood Report 2023:3

The economics of new gene edited plants - just like any other crop?

Food production is continuously facing the challenge of satisfying an increasing demand. The global population is projected to increase by 1.5 billion by 2050. Enhancing productivity in agriculture is imperative to match supply with demand and minimize its environmental footprint.

Recently, new genome editing techniques (NGTs) have emerged, increasing the opportunities for creating plants that increase yields, reduce the use of inputs like pesticides, and make crops more nutritious. Regulating NGT plants as traditional bred plants would facilitate market access and increase the prospects of cultivating NGT plants in the EU and the European Commission proposed a measure to ease market access for NGTs as recently as July 2023.

This study aims to illustrate the economic effects that result from treating NGTs as traditional breeding techniques and not as GMOs in the regulation.

Treating NGTs as traditional breeding technologies would expand the opportunity to create a wider variety of traits, all while no additional risks have been identified. Consumer studies suggest though that consumers are currently hesitant toward NGTs. These studies, however, are based on hypothetical scenarios and cover only a small sample of the EU population. Consumers also tend to be more positive towards NGT food than GMO food, and consumer acceptance may increase over time with more knowledge.