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Edited Not Modified

A European Union lawyer argues that gene-edited crops should be exempt from laws governing genetically modified organisms in the EU, the Guardian reports.

In a preliminary opinion, the advocate general, Michal Bobek, says that organisms that have undergone mutagenesis, but don't contain recombinant nucleic acids or other GM organism shouldn't be treated as such, it says. Bobek adds that individual EU member states can regulate the use of gene editing, according to Reuters.

Reuters adds that a group of French agricultural associations had appealed to the European Court of Justice, arguing that plants derived via mutagenesis shouldn't be exempt from French GMO laws.

The Guardian notes that biotech firms in Europe have are cautiously in favor of this interpretation that mutations induced by gene editing are similar to those that arise naturally through evolution. However, critics tell it that exempting gene-edited organisms is a step in the wrong direction.

King College London's Michael Antoniou tells the Guardian that none of the gene-editing approaches are perfect and may introduce errors with unintended consequences.

John Brennan, the secretary-general of EuropaBio, a biotech trade group, tells the paper his organization is looking forward to the court's ruling on the matter and the clarification of the regulatory status of such products.

Reuters adds that the European Court of Justice is to rule on the matter within a few months.