GMO news related to Germany

19.03.2017

Glyphosate Back in the News – Regulation, Revolving Doors, Pesticides & Politics

As the ECHA maintain “that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction” we take a look at how closely European politics and industry work together on pesticide regulation – and what this means.

As expected, the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has refused to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen. The ECHA maintained that glyphosate is “a substance causing serious eye damage and being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects” in their opinion, published last week. However the RAC concluded “that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction.”

16.03.2017

Clean bill of health for glyphosate - a fatal decision of ECHA

On 15 March 2017 the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced its decision on the weedkiller glyphosate: a complete acquittal with regard to cancer risk, possible genotoxicity and reproductive toxicity.

At a press conference, the representatives of ECHA explained that there was "not enough evidence" for carcinogenic effects. It was admitted that there were signs of cancer in the studies, which, however, were only "slightly" above background. It can be seen in the available official reports that the "background data" - the so-called historical control data - were violating the scientific rules and purpose-made to dismiss the findings. This clearly did not seem to have disturbed ECHA's Risk Assessment Committee. Asked whether the precautionary principle was applied to the evaluation, Jack de Bruijn from the ECHA said that all the data had been looked at and then a "weight of evidence approach" had been used. The precautionary principle was "not so much applied". PAN Germany recently presented a thorough review of such a "weight of evidence judgment" (http://www.pan-germany.org/download/The_Carcinogenic_Hazard_of_Glyphosate.pdf). "It is disappointing that the ECHA has apparently also made use of such an industry-friendly weight of evidence", says Peter Clausing of PAN Germany.

08.03.2017

German retailer asks suppliers to reduce glyphosate MRLs

German supermarket chain Aldi Süd is putting pressure on itssuppliers to reduce residues of the herbicide, glyphosate, to a maximum of 20%of EU maximum residue limits (MRLs), German media report. Aldi has said in aletter to the suppliers that “possible

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15.02.2017

GMO'Golden Rice': Unexpected genomic effects

Rice plants show reduced growth and irregular gene expression

15 February 2017 / A new publication has reported unintended effects in genetically engineered rice producing precursors of vitamin A, so-called carotenoids. Crossing the manipulated rice with the Indian variety Swarna led to a nasty surprise: The resulting plants showed extensive disturbance in their growth. The researchers identified several reasons for this: The new gene constructs interfere with the plant’s own gene for producing growth hormones, and the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of chlorophyll that is essential for vital functions in the plants.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.

The observed effects are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties. In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

05.02.2017

Consultation on Breeding Techniques

The realm of breeding techniques is rapidly evolving. The recent introduction and broad uptake of new genetic engineering techniques raises potential for huge impacts on our planet and society.

IFOAM - Organics International has convened an expert Working Group to study the full breadth of the topic and its effects both within and beyond the organic sector. The Working Group has drafted a position paper, which is now released for global consultation and feedback. We hereby request your review and comments so that we may further improve it.

At the next General Assembly of the organic movement, which is immediately following the 19th Organic World Congress in New Delhi, India in November 2017, the membership of IFOAM - Organics International is expected to vote on the position that the organic sector will take with respect to the full spectrum of known breeding techniques. (This new position complements the recently updated IFOAM - Organics International Position on Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms.)

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The deadline for comments is 31 March 2017.

14.01.2017

We are fed up with agro industry! - Berlin Demonstration

Agri businesses: Take your hands off our food! Together for healthy food, more rural and ecological farming and fair trade

Farming and regional food are at risk. Agri business and the Federal Government of Germany are pushing ahead with the industrialisation of agriculture and food. As a consequence the number of farms is collapsing globally, artisan food products are disappearing, as hundreds of millions of people are suffering from hunger or malnutrition. Meanwhile, pollution, biodiversity loss and the climate crisis becomes more and more crucial.

We want farms instead of agri business!

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We are farmers, food producers, beekeepers, bakers, gardeners, animal, environmental and nature activists, development workers, critical consumers and committed young people.

We are calling on you to join us as we fight for a more rural and ecological agriculture on the 7th international “We are fed up!” demonstration.

We need healthy food for everyone! We will make the transformation in food and farming a core political issue in this year. Policies and practices need to change so people and not corporations determine our food. We are fed up!

Saturday 21 January, 2017, in Berlin.

23.12.2016

German GMO-free industry body says gene-edited foods are GMOs

Products of new genetic engineering techniques must be tested, regulated, and labelled as GMOs – VLOG

In Europe the GMO label has become the equivalent of a skull-and-crossbones for many retail sectors and shoppers, resulting in a situation where GM ingredients are rarely used in food meant for human consumption. Pro-GMO lobbyists hope that a new wave of “gene-edited” plants and animals will escape GMO labelling and enter the food supply unnoticed and unopposed. They have even dubbed the new techniques “new plant breeding techniques” (NPBTs) in an apparent attempt to avoid the unpopular “GM word”.

04.12.2016

International biodiversity conference in Mexico: German Minister for the Environment opposed to the release of organisms with a 'gene-drive'

The uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms is already a reality

4 December 2016 / The German Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, has taken a clear stand against any release of genetically engineered organisms inheriting a 'gene drive'. In a statement she says, “I share your concern that 'gene drives' can severely impact ecosystems, and believe that special precautions are needed in research and risk assessment. From an environmental point of view, I do not think that a release of organisms inheriting a 'gene drive' can be justified with our current level of knowledge.” Her letter was sent to civil society organisations (CSOs) in Germany ahead of the 13 Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will take place from 4 - 17 December in Mexico.

Besides genetic information, so-called ’gene-drives’ also change the frequency of heredity. Gene drives are created by using new methods of genetic engineering, known as CRISPR-Cas. Once inserted into an organism, the newly introduced DNA will be transferred homozygously in each generation, and therefore spread throughout populations much faster than would be the case with natural heredity. Currently, there are ongoing discussions about whether this method should be applied in the genetic engineering of natural populations, such as insects, weeds and wild animals. Once released, these organisms can cause irreversible damage in ecological systems – and there are no known measures that can be taken to withdraw them from the environment.

29.11.2016

Testbiotech EU Newsletter 3/2016 (November 2016)

Most important topics: Complaint against EU authorisation for 'toxic soybeans' / Genetically engineered maize can give rise to superweeds / International research project / Golden Rice: Nobel Prize laureates caught up in sales campaign for biotech company?

Overview of Topics

Current Issues and Activities

- Testbiotech complaint against the EU authorisation for 'toxic soybeans'

- Genetically engineered maize can give rise to superweeds

- Conflicts of interest in EU risk research: EU Ombudsman calls for more transparency

- New Testbiotech report on genetic engineering of animals and animal experiments

- Testbiotech comment on maize Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21

- Testbiotech comment on soybean 305423 x 40-3-2

Scientific news

- Independent scientists set up international research project

- EFSA caught up in massive conflicts of interest whilst at the same time dismissing scientific findings

24.11.2016

Genetically engineered maize: risks not under control

Companies disregarding EU regulation

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The EU Commission wants to allow the cultivation of genetically engineered maize before the growing season 2017 starts. Three variants of transgenic maize producing insecticidal toxins, registered as MON810, Maize 1507 and Bt 11, are being considered. Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer and Syngenta are pushing for the market introduction of the seeds. EU Member States are expected to vote on this issue on 9 December.

As shown in a new Testbiotech backgrounder, large-scale cultivation of the transgenic plants can result in risks to health and agro-ecosystems, none of which have ever been assessed in detail, including various combinatorial effects. Moreover, the transgene may spread into the environment via gene flow to teosinte, a wild relative of maize. In addition experts put in question if the transgenic plants provide any benefits to the farmers.

The Testbiotech analysis shows that all the above-mentioned companies are intentionally breaching EU regulations; for several years, they concealed the fact that teosinte plants had appeared in Spanish maize fields.