GMO news related to Belgium

31.01.2019

After years of deadlock and political nightmares, are we finally ready to change the discussion on GMOs?

What care ethics can bring to the conversation

Today, the European Parliament backed four objections against the authorisation for import of new GM plants into the EU (two maize, one oil seed rape and a cotton), bringing the total number of such objections to 31 in just over three years. None of these 31 GMOs opposed by the European Parliament received a political backing from Member states. Nevertheless, the European Commission decided to override this opposition and to authorize 24 of them. These GM plants are mainly imported from North and South America and are used as animal feed.

In this article, we could discuss the characteristics of these four new GMOs and explain, for example, how some are tolerant to glufosinate, a dangerous herbicide, toxic for reproduction, and banned in the EU - but this would only be a repetition of so many articles that we have published over these last 3 years.

Why and how did we end up in this political stand-off? How did we come to such a deep misunderstanding between a majority of EU citizens, who are opposed to this technology in their food and fields, and the agro-chemical industry seemingly usually supported by the EU Commission?

08.01.2019

Detailed Expert Report on Plagiarism and superordinated Copy Paste in the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) on Glyphosate

Introduction

The classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in March 2015 by the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency IARC triggered a public debate on why this body’s verdict was at odds with the European Union’s “clean bill of health” for the chemical. The question arose at to whether relevant parts of the risk assessment of glyphosate were not actually written by scientists working for Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), but by the European Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) – the coalition of pesticide companies submitting the application. This suspicion could not be satisfactorily cleared up during the hearings of the European Parliament‘s Special Committee on the Union‘s authorisation procedure for pesticides (PEST). Therefore in response, a group of parliamentarians with different political affiliations commissioned the present study.

16.10.2018

New GM ‘eradication’ techniques pose grave threat to ecosystems

Why we need an international moratorium on so-called “gene drive”

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Gene drive allows for modification of entire wild populations

Concerns around the contamination of natural populations seem to have been completely ignored in the development of this new technique, known as gene drive, which if unimpeded will enable humans to modify entire populations of living organisms in just a few generations. Gene drive allows for the bypassing of hereditary laws and the passing of a gene from one parent to almost all its descendants, whatever the genes of the other parent. In this way, it is, for example, possible to pass a female sterility gene through genetically modified males and - in theory - eradicate a whole population.

Proponents of this technique usually present extremely exciting possible uses like a reduction of the number of mosquitoes responsible for the malaria epidemic, or the eradication of an imported rat population that is endangering the ecosystem of New Zealand. These indeed sound great if we forget that the consequences could be dire.

09.08.2018

Stop illegal "new GM" field trials – NGOs to Juncker

Commission urged to clamp down on illegal GMO releases and imports

In the wake of the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that certain new techniques of genetic engineering do fall under EU legislation on GMOs, a coalition of NGOs including GMWatch has written to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asking him to take action against EU member states that have permitted field trials with new GMOs outside the GMO legal framework. The "rogue" member states include the UK, Sweden, Finland, and Belgium.

The NGOs' letter calls on Juncker to remind EU member states that they must stop all ongoing and planned releases in the environment that are not in accordance with the GMO legislation. Should a member state fail to comply immediately, then the Commission should launch an infringement procedure. The letter also asks Juncker to enable EU member states to ensure that GMOs derived from new genetic engineering techniques do not enter the EU without market authorisation. For this purpose, the EU should task the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL) to develop methods for the detection of GMOs (authorised and unauthorised) developed through new genetic engineering techniques.

03.08.2018

Commission authorises five Genetically Modified products for food and feed use

Daily News 03 / 08 / 2018

Brussels, 3 August 2018

Today, the Commission has adopted authorisation decisions of five Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for food and feed use. The authorisation decisions do not cover the use of these GMOs for cultivation. Today's decisions concern 2 new authorisations (maize MON 87427 x MON 89034 x NK603, maize 1507 x 59122 x MON 810 x NK603) and the renewal of 3 existing authorisations (maize DAS-59122-7, maize GA21, sugar beet H7-1). All of these Genetically Modified Organisms have gone through a comprehensive authorisation procedure, including a favourable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). All Member States had a right to express a view in the Standing Committee and subsequently the Appeals Committee, and the outcome is that the European Commission has the legal backing of the Member States to proceed. The authorisations are valid for 10 years, and any products produced from these Genetically Modified Organisms will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules. For more information on GMOs in the EU see: https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/gmo_en

25.07.2018

Industry shocked by EU Court decision to put gene editing technique under GM law

The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday (25 July) that organisms obtained by mutagenesis plant breeding technique are GMOs and should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive, in a surprising move that went contrary to the Advocate-General’s non-binding opinion.

The decision shocked the industry, which described it as a severe blow to innovation in EU agriculture and warned about economic and environmental consequences.

József Máté, Corporate Communications Leader at Corteva Agriscience, described the Court decision as a “bad day” for the EU agri-food sector.

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A ‘victory’

On the contrary, it was warmly welcomed by environmental NGOs, who said the EU shut the door to “new GMOs”. They hailed the Court’s decision and called it a victory for consumers, farmers and the environment.

Nina Holland, a campaigner from the Corporate Europe Observatory, said big agribusiness corporations will continue lobbying in Brussels to escape EU safety rules for the new GMOs.

“But today’s ruling leaves no doubt: Products from gene editing are covered by the existing EU GMO rules,” she said.

Similarly, Bart Staes MEP [Greens/EFA] noted that just because the industry has come up with new ways to modify organisms “does not mean that these techniques should be exempt from existing EU standards on GMOs.”

“Recent scientific studies show that these new techniques might not be as accurate as the industry claims them to be, that’s why it’s essential that they come under the same labelling requirements and impact assessments as existing GMOs,” he added.

25.07.2018

A victory for food safety and the environment: ECJ ruling on new GMOs

Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that organisms obtained by mutagenesis, otherwise known as "new breeding techniques" by the biotech industry, are in fact Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and are subject to the 2001 EU GMO Directive and all its obligations. Despite heavy lobbying by the industry looking for ways to circumvent the GMO Directive, the Court's ruling is a victory for European food safety and the environment.

Bart Staes MEP, Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and spokesperson on GMOs comments:

"Today's ruling is a victory for food safety and the environment. Just because the industry has come up with new ways to modify organisms does not mean that these techniques should be exempt from existing EU standards on GMOs. Recent scientific studies show that these new techniques might not be as accurate as the industry claims them to be, that's why it's essential that they come under the same labelling requirements and impact assessments as existing GMOs. These new patented organisms may have unintended effects, as well the potential to increase our dependence on the agri-chemical industry, and therefore must be stringently monitored by the European Food Safety Authority for any risks to human, animal and environmental health."

25.07.2018

EU's top court confirms safety checks needed for new 'GMO 2.0'

The EU's top court ruled today that a controversial new generation of food genetic engineering techniques should be subject to EU safety checks and consumer labelling.

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice confirmed that new techniques to modify genetic material in plant or animal cells – so called 'GMO 2.0' – must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as existing genetically modified foods (GMOs).

Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "These new 'GMO 2.0' genetic engineering techniques must be fully tested before they are let out in the countryside and into our food. We welcome this landmark ruling which defeats the biotech industry's latest attempt to push unwanted genetically-modified products onto our fields and plates."

The biotech industry has been arguing that GMO 2.0 foods and crops should not go through existing EU safety and labelling laws. Today's decision therefore preserves the EU's food safety and traceability standards, which would have been threatened by any ambiguity in the ruling.

Mute Schimpf continued: "EU and national lawmakers now need to ensure that all new genetically modified products are fully tested, and they must also support the small-scale, nature-friendly agriculture we urgently need."

25.07.2018

New GMOs cannot escape testing and labelling under EU law, EU court rules

Brussels – A new brand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), derived from so-called gene editing techniques, must comply with risk assessment, traceability and labelling requirements under EU GMO law, the European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday.

The Court said that any organism obtained with new genetic engineering techniques falls within the scope of GMO law. It argued that the risks linked to the use of these techniques are comparable to those associated with conventional genetic engineering.

The ruling confirms warnings by scientists who have argued that gene editing can cause unintended DNA damage with unknown consequences. A recent article in Nature showed that CRISPR/Cas can cause much greater genetic deletions and more complex genomic rearrangements than experts thought.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Court makes it crystal clear that plants and animals derived from gene editing are subject to the same safety and labelling requirements as other GM organisms. These requirements exist to prevent harm and inform consumers about the food they eat. Releasing these new GMOs into the environment without proper safety measures is illegal and irresponsible, particularly given that gene editing can lead to unintended side effects. The European Commission and European governments must now ensure that all new GMOs are fully tested and labelled, and that any field trials are brought under GMO rules.”

25.07.2018

ECJ ruling on gene editing products: Victory for consumers, farmers, environment

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today published its ruling on the legal status of food and feed crops derived from certain new genetic modification techniques. It gave clear confirmation that organisms from these new gene editing techniques are covered by existing EU GMO regulation.

Reacting to the decision, which corroborates the January 2018 opinion of one of the court’s Advocates General, Corporate Europe Observatory’s agribusiness campaigner Nina Holland said:

“This is a big victory for the environment, farmers and consumers. It clarifies that EU decision makers have to ensure that products from these new techniques are assessed for potential food safety and environmental risks, and that they are properly labelled as GMOs.

“Big agribusiness corporations will continue their lobbying in Brussels to escape EU safety rules for the new GMOs, but today's ruling leaves no doubt: Products from gene editing are covered by the existing EU GMO rules.

"This ruling also means that the secret, unregulated field trial currently run in Belgium is illegal. The CRISPR-technique does in no way have a "history of safe use", and the plants used in this trial are undoubtedly GMOs. Belgian authorities should act accordingly and halt this trial."

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