Skip to main content Skip to page footer

Gene drives and the EU

Ludwig Krämer

elni Review 2020, pp. 2-6.

With the discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 method in 2012, the global research on gene drives - the deliberate release of genetically modified animals and plants into the environment - increased spectacularly, as the new methods are seen in particular as means to extinct vector-transmitted diseases such as malaria or dengue fever, or support agricultural production. The contribution examines the legality of gene drive releases within the EU and describes the efforts to find some international consensus on gene drive releases. As genetically modified animals, such as mosquitoes, which are released elsewhere, might also reach and spread in Europe, the EU has an interest to actively participate in the international discussions and bring in its experience with GMO legislation. 

Access full article


  1. Megan Scudellari: Self-destructing mosquitoes and sterilized rodents. Nature 2019, no. 571 of 9 July 2019. DOI:
  2. Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC - Commission Declaration, OJ 2001 L 106/1, as last amended by Commission Directive (EU) 2018/350 of 8 March 2018 amending Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the environmental risk assessment of genetically modified organisms, OJ 2018 L 67/30.
  3. Court of Justice of the European Union, Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 25 July 2018. Confédération paysanne and Others v Premier ministre and Ministre de l’agriculture, de l’agroalimentaire et de la forêt. Request for a preliminary ruling from the Conseil d'État. Reference for a preliminary ruling — Deliberate release of genetically modified organisms into the environment — Mutagenesis — Directive 2001/18/EC — Articles 2 and 3 — Annexes I A and I B — Concept of ‘genetically modified organism’ — Techniques/methods of genetic modification conventionally used and deemed to be safe — New techniques/methods of mutagenesis — Risks for human health and the environment — Discretion of the Member States when transposing the directive — Directive 2002/53/EC — Common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species — Herbicide-tolerant plant varieties — Article 4 — Acceptability of genetically modified varieties obtained by mutagenesis for inclusion in the common catalogue — Human health and environmental protection requirement — Exemption (Case C-528/16).
  4. R. Steinbrecher a.o.: Potential applications and risks, pp. 72ss. in: Critical Scientists of Switzerland (CSS) - Ecological Network for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) - Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler (VDW) (eds): Gene drives. A report on their science, applications, social aspects, ethics and regulations. Bern - Berlin 2019.
  5. WHO, Global burden of major vector-borne diseases 2017.