GMO news related to Austria

20.12.2018 |

European Court of Justice ruling regarding new genetic engineering methods scientifically justified: a commentary on the biased reporting about the recent ruling

Eva Gelinsky and Angelika HilbeckEmail author

Environmental Sciences Europe201830:52

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-018-0182-9© The Author(s) 2018

Received: 1 October 2018Accepted: 5 December 2018Published: 20 December 2018

In July 2018, the European Court of Justice (Case C-528/16) ruled that organisms obtained by directed mutagenesis techniques are to be regarded as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within the meaning of Directive 2001/18. The ruling marked the next round of the dispute around agricultural genetic engineering in Europe. Many of the pros and cons presented in this dispute are familiar from the debate around the first generation of genetic engineering techniques. The current wave of enthusiasm for the new genetic engineering methods, with its claim to make good on the failed promises of the previous wave, seems to point more to an admission of failure of the last generation of genetic engineering than to a true change of paradigm. Regulation is being portrayed as a ban on research and use, which is factually incorrect, and the judges of the European Court of Justice are being defamed as espousing “pseudoscience”. Furthermore, this highly polarised position dominates the media reporting of the new techniques and the court’s ruling. Advocates of the new genetic engineering techniques appear to believe that their benefits are so clear that furnishing reliable scientific evidence is unnecessary. Meanwhile, critics who believe that the institution of science is in a serious crisis are on the increase not just due to the cases of obvious documented scientific misconduct by companies and scientists, but also due to the approach of dividing the world into those categorically for or against genetic engineering. In this construct of irreconcilable opposites, differentiations fall by the wayside. This article is a response to this one-sided and biased reporting, which often has the appearance of spin and lacks journalistic ethics that require journalists to report on different positions in a balanced and factual manner instead of taking positions and becoming undeclared advocates themselves.

20.07.2018 |

Do we really need next-gen genetically modified foods to feed the world?

Companies are on the verge of selling lab-grown meat. The new products are touted as environmentally friendly, but is it what consumers want and where exactly are the lines when it comes to genetic engineering?

When a strawberry from Chile and a strawberry from the United States met in a genteel French garden 200 years ago — on a blind date arranged by gardeners who wanted to create a better berry — it was love at first sight.

Previously, imported species from the US state of Virginia hadn't produced much, while the fruits of European varieties were very small. As it turned out, the Chilean genes held the magic ingredient, and nearly every strawberry you buy in the market today comes from that strain.

Luscious strawberries may be among the the tastiest results of genetic tinkering, but they are not the only. Mesopotamians started propagating wild grasses with the biggest seeds 10,000 years ago, which eventually turned them into the crops we now call rice, wheat, barley, oats, millet and rye.

16.01.2018 |

Growing opposition to patents on seeds

Seed giants still trying to expand their monopolies

16 January 2018

As a new report published today by No Patents on Seeds! shows, the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to grant patents on plants derived from conventional breeding – even though the contracting states urged the enforcement of relevant prohibitions in 2017. Around 25 patents were approved last year, despite the EPO officially claiming that it no longer grants such patents. The patents cover crops such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumber, grapes, sunflower, sorghum and soybeans. In response, there is growing opposition to EPO practice. And for the first time, a joint letter written by COPA/COGECA, No Patents on Seeds! and organisations from the organic sector has been sent to the EU Commission. COPA/COGECA is the largest farmers’ organisation in the EU and also represents many breeders.

Despite growing criticism, the seed giants are still trying to push their agenda of misappropriation of natural resources: Syngenta has asked the EPO to abolish existing restrictions. The company filed an appeal in August 2017, and this will be the subject of a public hearing at the EPO tomorrow.

05.12.2017 |

Criminal complaint filed against EU authorities after glyphosate approval

Approval was gained via covert industry influence and copy-pasting of manufacturers’ documents instead of independent evaluation, NGOs say

An alliance of environmental NGOs on Monday launched criminal proceedings in Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and France against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German Federal Institute of Risk Assessment, BfR, over the EU approval of glyphosate.

Citing their own investigations, US court documents (the so-called "Monsanto Papers"), and a report on plagiarism, the NGOs state that BfR and EFSA have not conducted an independent, objective and transparent assessment of the health risks of glyphosate, as required by the EU Pesticide Regulation 1107/2009. As a result, glyphosate has once again been approved in Europe, when it would otherwise have failed to meet the legal requirements for authorization. The NGOs are concerned that serious damage to health will occur as a result of what they term official misconduct.

02.08.2017 |

Donau Soja and ProTerra Join for a European Cooperation

Amsterdam / Vienna -- The ProTerra Foundation, an international organisation based in the Netherlands, and the European Soya Organisation Donau Soja, an international NGO based in Austria, have agreed to work in close cooperation regarding the certification of sustainable soya grown in Europe. ProTerra recognises the Europe Soya Standard as the European interpretation of the ProTerra Standard. Soybean producers and processors within Europe will have their products certified according to the Europe Soya Standard, while soya producers outside Europe will continue to do so according to the ProTerra standard. This will allow all market participants to be certified according to one widely recognised standard and to maximize synergies between Donau Soja's European network and ProTerra's global experience. As the standard holder of Europe Soya, the Donau Soja Association will serve the European market with the support of the ProTerra Foundation.

"I am very pleased for the opportunity to work hand in hand with Donau Soja to provide synergies, alternatives and solutions for market participants who are securing the supply of sustainably grown European soybeans without GMOs that are equivalent to the soybeans and soya derivatives from Brazil and other origins certified against the ProTerra Standard. The pooled efforts with Europe Soya will result in a stronger and unified European soya standard that aims at zero deforestation and will benefit producers, processors, retailers, and – most of all – consumers", comments ProTerra Chairman Augusto Freire.

"I am extremely happy that our two organisations will be joining forces to certify and label sustainable European non-GMO soybeans and soya products according to a combined sustainability standard and quality scheme. We are convinced this will help us promote our mission to make European agriculture more sustainable by deploying legume crop rotation according to best practice standards. It will also be good for the market, there will soon be many more certified products available for all market participants. Thanks to our cooperation with ProTerra, we can have a much greater impact on the market and on sustainability", adds Matthias Krön, Chairman of Donau Soja Association.

EU legislation is the minimum requirement for the Europe Soya Standard and a baseline in all relevant aspects of the production chain, even for non-EU countries, such as Serbia, Bosnia, Moldova, and Ukraine. This is particularly relevant in terms of the use of chemicals, regarding which EU legislation exhibits more strict regulations than many non-EU countries. Europe Soya also forbids desiccation with substances like glyphosate. The Europe Soya Standard includes requirements such as a ban on land use change (e.g. no deforestation), the obligation to respect social and labour rights (ILO conventions), and a non-GMO status according to existing regulations. (For additional details see: www.donausoja.org/downloads.)

The continent of Europe currently imports the equivalent of around 40 million tons of soybeans per year that were grown on approximately 16 million hectares. The mid-term potential for European soy production and cultivation is around 15 million tons in the next ten years. Current production is approximately 9.2 million tons. ProTerra and Donau Soja share a common goal to jointly realise this potential via viable means and by way of sustainable soybeans grown in Europe as well as imported soybeans that are produced sustainably and in accord with the ProTerra Standard.

Augusto Freire and Matthias Krön jointly conclude that, "We are convinced that our new cooperation will allow us to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable agriculture worldwide."

20.02.2017 |

No patents on plants and animals! Time for action – Now! 2017 How YOU can make a CHANGE!

This document explains what measures can be taken by civil society to make their voice heard in order to prevent patents on conventionally bred plants and animals in Europe.

Provided by NO PATENTS ON SEEDS! in February 2017

www.no-patents-on-seeds.org

Twitter: @NoPatentsOnSeed

The current situation and our goals

On 25 March 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the

European Patent Office (EPO) confirmed an unacceptable

interpretation of the current patent law: while processes for

conventional breeding cannot be patented, plants and animals

stemming from these processes are patentable. This is not only

contradictory in itself, but it also undermines the prohibitions in

European patent law: “Plant and animal varieties or essentially

biological processes for production plants and animals” are

excluded from patentability (Art 53 b, EPC).

26.10.2016 |

Move to standardize GM free production throughout Danube region

Newly developed labelling standards for GM free plant based foods and products of animal origin are said to be another step in the harmonization of regulations for a GM free Europe.

13.10.2016 |

More egg brands switching to GM free soy from Danube region

Laying hens are proving to be the point of entry sector for inclusion of the Europe grown GM free Danube Soya, says the association behind the program.

13.10.2016 |

Non-GMO: World Egg Day - The value in eggs – regional feeding with Donau Soja

Since November 2013, consumers can buy Donau Soja labelled eggs in Austrian supermarkets. Since then, the demand is continuously rising: today laying hens in Austria, Germany and Serbia are fed with Donau Soja. Donau Soja members thus advocate sustainable agriculture. Together with them, we

are celebrating the 21st World Egg Day!

Donau Soja, a program for sustainable, non-GM and regional cultivation of soya, finds greater application: More and more poultry farmers all over Europe choose European, certified soya. They are thus an important part of a sustainable and regional

agriculture.

23.03.2016 |

DANUBE SOYA ENDS USE OF GLYPHOSATE AS DESICCANT IN EU SOY - Environment MEPs call for glyphosate ban

The EU Commission should not renew the approval of glyphosate as long as concerns remain about its carcinogenicity, said MEPs

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