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Cibus Applauds the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Conclusion that Gene Editing by ODM, SDN-1 and SDN-2 Does Not Pose More Hazards than Conventional Plant Breeding

EFSA scientific opinion represents an important step in Europe’s “Farm to Fork” initiative

San Diego – December 8, 2020 - Cibus, a leader in gene editing, welcomes the Scientific Opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on plants produced using different genome editing techniques: site-directed nuclease-1 (SDN-1), site-directed nuclease-2 (SDN-2) and oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM). In its opinion, EFSA concluded that each of these genome editing techniques that modify the DNA of plants do not pose more hazards than conventional plant breeding (See: Existing guidance appropriate for assessment of genome editing in plants).

This Opinion supports the Europeans Union’s (“EU”) Green Deal Program (Green Deal) announced in December 2019. A part of the Green Deal is its Agricultural initiative: the “Farm to Fork” program announced in May 2020 to create a more sustainable and cleaner farming practices. Farm to Fork sets targets to significantly reduce the use and risk of chemicals, fertilizers and the carbon footprint of farming, and to increase farmland dedicated to organic farming. They acknowledge that the new breeding techniques, if safe, are an important technology in the Green Initiative to reduce the fuel, fertilizers and chemicals used in farming. As part of this initiative, the EU commissioned a study of these new genomic techniques to evaluate their safety and their potential to help achieve these goals. This Scientific Opinion by EFSA on new precision gene editing technologies is an important part of this review. The final study (of which this Opinion on the safety of these techniques will be a part) is scheduled to be released on April 30, 2021.

This EFSA Scientific Opinion followed a vote on October 19, 2020 by the agriculture ministers of the EU that gave their approval to the European Commission’s Farm to Fork initiative supporting the use of innovative breeding technologies to boost the sustainability of food production subject to EFSA’s scientific assessment of the safety of these new technologies.

“We are very pleased by both EFSA’s recent scientific opinion and the support of the Agricultural Council, as they are key steps in the EU’s assessment of precision gene editing technologies,” said Peter Beetham, Ph.D., CEO and president of Cibus. “Especially exciting is that the EFSA specifically cited ODM and SDN-2, both of which are among the core proprietary technologies of our RTDS.”

“We are encouraged by these events,” added Greg Gocal, Ph.D. EVP and chief scientific officer of Cibus. “Scientists have made tremendous advances with these advanced breeding technologies that can more efficiently develop ‘nature-identical’ traits consistent with traditional breeding. Europe’s assessment is consistent with other global regulatory authorities that are recognizing that the products from these technologies are both safe and a major force in the greening of farming practice and the environment by reducing the use of fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers.”

Note: EFSA is the agency of the EU that provides independent scientific advice and communicates on existing and emerging risks associated with the food chain, as it provides up-to-date perspectives of the hazards associated with these techniques.

About Cibus

Cibus is a leading AgTech company that uses precision gene editing technologies to improve farming practice by bringing biological innovation to the seed. Its focus is input traits and agronomic traits, in the largest crops: canola, rice, soybean, corn and wheat, addressing the key areas of farming practice associated with controlling disease, weed, insects and climate stress. Advances in input traits are widely recognized as important elements of the global push to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture and to building more sustainable, profitable and eco-friendly farming practices. The company has subsidiaries in Europe and North America and a research and development center in San Diego, California.