Italy is opening the door to the use of biotech in agriculture – “we are at the forefront in Europe” explained the minister of agriculture and food sovereignty – and expects a proposal from the Commission by the first week of July. According to Ettore Prandini, the president of Coldiretti who in recent days met the director of the Health department in Brussels, “there will be a positive opinion and we have also been reassured because it will be avoided that there are further slowdowns in the debate, as threatened by the vice president of the Commission Frans Timmermans when his proposals are not approved”.
What’s going on? “We have little time to approve the regulation proposal that the EU Commission will present on 5 July. The European Parliament and the EU Council must work closely together to arrive at a co-decision by the first months of 2024, otherwise there is a risk of block the process of the dossier”, denounces Massimiliano Giansanti, president of Confagricoltura. And the vice president of the Senate, Gian Marco Centinaio, adds: “Agriculture cannot remain a victim of the electoral campaign for the European elections. In the face of those in Brussels who continue to put obstacles in the way of experimentation and recognition of Assisted Evolutionary Techniques (TEA) , Italy must commit itself to asserting its leadership role in this field”.
We will see. Meanwhile, the joint Agriculture and Environment commissions of the Senate have unanimously given the go-ahead for experimentation in the open field of assisted evolution techniques in agriculture (TEA). It is “a tool that currently represents the most advanced response for farmers to face the climate emergency and the need to produce more and better for a constantly growing population”, explains Clara Fossato, spokesperson for Cibo per la Mente . Francesco Lollobrigida, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, then underlines how “thanks to the collaboration of all the parties, Italy is at the forefront in Europe. We will be able to obtain plants that are more resistant to drought and climatic changes, and with improved quality. This is why it is necessary to invest in it without ideologies or prejudices, aware that we are not talking about GMOs”.
In fact, with Tea, it is possible to inactivate individual genes in a precise way. The consequences? In the words of Tommaso Battista, president of Copagri, “the Teas do nothing but accelerate what already happens in nature, i.e. the selection of the plants that best adapt to certain contexts”. And Fossato, who speaks on behalf of 15 associations of supply chain (Aisa, Federchimica Agrofarma, API, Assalzoo, Assica, Assitol, Federchimica Assobiotec, Federchimica Assofertilizzanti, Assosementi, Compag, CIA-Agricoltori Italiani, Confagricoltura, Copagri, UNAItalia, Uniceb), says she is convinced that “Italian biotech research can now to be a protagonist again and put innovation at the service of our sector, which will be able to help overcome the production shortages that put the entire Made in Italy supply chain at risk”.
It is no coincidence, then, that Carlo Gaudio, president of the Council for agricultural research (Crea), speaks of a “decisive moment” because “the research activities already carried out in the laboratories of our Centers have shown extraordinary results that we can now put to the test in the field. Genetic innovation is essential to ensure the sustainability of production”. In the words of the president of Confagricoltura, Massimiliano Giansanti, it puts an “end to a long period of technological obscurantism. Teas will make it possible to reduce the use of pesticides and water and guarantee food for a growing world population”.
Hence the pressure on the EU. Ettore Prandini, leader of Coldiretti, hopes that “the amendment will be the tool to obtain as soon as possible the go-ahead for the proposed regulation on genomic techniques at Community level”. In the meantime, “we hope that the implementation process will be implemented quickly, so as to be able to put tea at the service of the Made in Italy agricultural supply chains” concludes the president of CIA-Agricoltori Italiani, Cristiano Fini. A path that should be fast because, as Luca De Carlo, first signatory of the amendment, recalls, there has been a transversal convergence: “It is a goal shared by all the parties that has overthrown ideologies to favor progress and research”.