9th GMO Free Europe Conference Berlin, September 6th / 7th 2018

More than 200 participants from GMO Free Regions throughout Europe, as well as guests from North-America, Asia, New Zealand and Africa (35 nations in total) met in Berlin to discuss new an old challenges of genetic engineering in agriculture as well as the environment at large. They were relieved and reassured by the recent European Court of Justice’ decision that all forms of genetic engineering, including CRISPR-Cas and other forms of so called “gene editing” fall under the European directive on GMOs. This requires risk assessment and specific approval for each GM product, traceability and labelling.

However, participants agreed that the new GM technologies require special attention and debate and additional risk assessment. A new generation of GMO, “Gene drives”, designed to alter the genetic makeup of entire species, including their potential extinction, was of major concern. Such Gene Drive Organisms (GDOs) should not be released into the environment anywhere on the world, participants agreed.

The network of 64 gmo free regional governments, hosting the 2nd day of the Conference, adopted a Berlin Declaration, that calls for a European and global moratorium of Gene Drives and demands that national governments as well as the EU take on this issue at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity. When presenting the declaration, the networks President Dr. Beatrix Tappeser, said: “Let us continue the precautionary approach, and maintain our GMO Free pathway, that has served the European Regions so well over the past decade. There needs to be more public investment in the agriculture people really want.”

Benny Haerlin of “Save Our Seeds”, who organised the NGO-part of the conference, added: “The debate about GMOs, including recent promises of “new” genetic engineering are not just a matter of safety and precaution. The dispute about these technologies is about the kind of agriculture we want for the future: Multinational industry driven techno-innovation versus small farmers driven agroecology.”

 

Participants and Co-Organisers of the Conference in Berlin Foto: Simone M. Neumann


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