GMO news related to the European Union

14.02.2020 |

Farmer vs. Bayer, BASF: Farmer Awarded $15M in Dicamba Drift Trial

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI: Late this afternoon, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Cape Girardueu, Missouri issued a verdict finding Bayer and BASF liable for plaintiff Bader Farms’ 30,000+ damaged peach trees due to drifting of the broad spectrum herbicide dicamba. Bader Farms was awarded $15 million in damages, with the amount of punitive damages to be decided Saturday.

This verdict was issued amidst reports of an ongoing dicamba drift crisis — reported cases of dicamba drift are up in Indiana, Arkansas, Iowa, and Illinois.

Linda Wells, Pesticide Action Network Organizing Director, issued the following statement:

“This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg — there is a long queue of farmers who have been impacted by dicamba drift and deserve their day in court. The internal Monsanto (now Bayer) documents uncovered in this case show that the company released a highly destructive and intentionally untested product onto the market, and used its influence to cheat the regulatory system.

12.02.2020 |

Three Big Battles for Global Food Policy Looming

World Food Systems Summit is part of a three-pronged corporate food policy power grab

February 12, 2020—A corporate alliance (consisting of Big Ag, the World Economic Forum, philanthro-capitalists and others) have spearheaded three separate initiatives (the Food Systems Summit, restructuring research institutions, acceleration of data collection) which threaten to converge and utterly transform the multilateral food and agriculture system.

If successful, these initiatives would further force-feed the failed industrial food system to the public sector and world agriculture, binding governments to a corporate agenda that marginalizes farmers, civil society, social movements and agroecology.

In a new Communiqué, The Next Agribusiness Takeover, ETC Group describes in detail the history and implications of the three initiatives – for which the World Food Systems Summit is setting the framework.

10.02.2020 |

French Council of State imposes strict application of European GMO legislation

Brussels, 10 February 2020 – France’s Council of State has ruled in favour of a coalition of associations, including the Confédération paysanne, who had mobilised against GMO, taking legal action against the French government.

The associations petitionned the court in 2015 over the then Prime Minister’s refusal to declare a moratorium on the cultivation in France of varieties made tolerant to herbicides, or to apply GMO regulations to all varieties obtained by new mutagenesis techniques.

Last week, the Council of State found in favour of the associations, ruling that organisms obtained using new mutagenesis techniques should be subject to European regulations on GMO, specifically European Directive of 12 March 2001 (2001/18/EC). In accordance with the precautionary principle, risk assessments should be carried out on GMO, which must also be subject to compulsory public information, labelling and monitoring requirements.

05.02.2020 |

New GMOs: Kyriakides gets off on wrong foot with biased consultation

The new EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides recently told EURACTIV.com that her “priority is to gather more information” on gene editing. To this end, she said, “we will be preparing a study on new genomic techniques, foreseen for spring 2021”. Clearly, the design and set-up of such a study will be crucial to its outcome, writes Nina Holland.

By Nina Holland, a researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory

On 10 February 2020, DG SANTE will hold a ‘targeted stakeholder consultation’ to discuss the set-up of this policy study on ‘new genomic techniques’.

However, only Brussels-based organisations have been invited and the list of invitees shows an enormous bias towards industry interests. Out of 94 organisations invited, more than 70% represent industrial food and farming interests, contrasting with fewer than 12% of NGOs.

Such a biased set-up raises concerns that the study is being designed to deliver a pre-determined conclusion.

03.02.2020 |

The GM potato push in Rwanda: With regulatory hurdles in Uganda, is this the industry’s fall back?

To enable the introduction of the first GM crop to be grown in Rwanda – a GM potato variety named ‘Victoria’ – the Rwandan government is fast-tracking the development of a biosafety policy and legal framework.

Civil society is deeply concerned about the potential risks of this GM potato variety, which has been genetically modified through cisgenesis – a process that involves taking three genes from three wild South American potato varieties to confer resistance to late blight.

Late blight has a devastating impact on potato farmers globally, with yield losses in East Africa alone estimated at up to 70%. This has led to Rwandan farmers using more pesticides, particularly fungicides – normally eight applications of three different chemicals each season. Not only does this excessive use of fungicide come at a high financial, environmental and health cost but it has also led to increased resistance in late blight, which is caused by a pathogen that quickly adapts into new strains, living on and between crops as mycelium.

Understandably, the Rwandan government would like to reduce vulnerability to late blight, increase yields and reduce the amount of fungicide used in the growing of potatoes.

However, will this GM potato fulfil on its promise to provide a solution?

23.01.2020 |

RAGES subreport: New genetic engineering technologies

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), predominantly plants, have been commercially grown in some countries, notably the Americas, since the mid-1990s. Current GMOs have been developed using ‘first generation’ genetic engineering technologies. More recently, new applications of GMOs and new modes of creating novel traits have been developed alongside new genetic engineering technologies. Grafting, cisgenesis and intragenesis, reverse breeding and RNA-directed DNA

methylation (RdDM) either utilise GMOs created using first generation techniques as an intermediary stage or can, in the case of agro-infiltration, unintentionally give rise to GMOs. Most, if not all, of the principal concerns regarding first generation GMOs apply to these new types of GMOs and new genetic engineering techniques. Some novel types of GMOs (e.g. RNA interference (RNAi)-based GM plants) present additional challenges for risk assessment, as do new genetic engineering techniques, such as genome editing.

19.01.2020 |

GM food: Keep EU rules or risk health, says gene expert

A war of words has broken out among some of Britain’s leading scientists over the safety of genetically modified crops and livestock.

It follows a warning by a genome researcher at King’s College London that Crispr, the “high-precision” gene-editing technology that is revolutionising DNA research, is less precise than has been claimed and could create mutant crops that produce toxic or carcinogenic proteins.

Michael Antoniou, head of King’s gene expression and therapy group, said that after Brexit ministers should retain the tough EU rules that have blocked most genetically modified crops and livestock from commercial use.

16.01.2020 |

NGO letter
NGO letter

NGO letter to all MEPs: Call to support amendments on gene drive organisms in EP motion for a resolution on COP 15 CBD

Motion for a resolution on the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (B9-0035/2020); Please support amendments 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

With this letter, we are asking you to support a call for a global moratorium on so-called Gene Drives as part of the European Parliament’s motion for a resolution on the 15th meeting of the

Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Biodiversity is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. An estimate of 1 million species is threatened with extinction. This is the grim conclusion of the landmark report from the

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Gene Drives – a new eradication technology

08.01.2020 |

The Gene Drive Dilemma: We Can Alter Entire Species, but Should We?

FEATURE

A new genetic engineering technology could help eliminate malaria and stave off extinctions — if humanity decides to unleash it.

(.....)

What made the gene drive truly strange and remarkable, though, was that it didn’t stop with one set of offspring. Generation after generation, it would relentlessly copy and paste the gene it carried, until it was present in every descendant. “For most of the people in the room, you could tell it was the first they’d heard of this,” James recalled. “You could see their eyes getting big.”

21.12.2019 |

Here’s Why Many CRISPR/Cas9 Experiments Could Be Wrong – and How to Fix Them

Researchers assumed that CRISPR was turning off genes. They shouldn’t have.

Every living cell on Earth has proteins. Typically thousands of them, that serve as molecular machines to digest food, sense the environment, or anything else a cell must do. However, many genes, and the proteins they code for, have unknown functions. In humans, the function of about 1 out of 5 of genes is unknown. To explore these dark corners of the genome, scientists can break up DNA to disable a gene, making their encoded proteins nonfunctional, and watch what happens to cells as a result, inferring the lost function from what goes wrong.

When CRISPR/Cas9 came online in 2012, it offered scientists a tool to do exactly this – cut genes. The Cas9 enzyme searches through DNA, using a “guide RNA” to look for a specific sequence, and makes a cut when it finds a match. The gene, split in two, is repaired by the cell, but often with a large chunk missing. Many scientists assume that if a chunk of a gene is missing then the protein that it encodes will not function, or even be produced.

In many cases, they would be terribly wrong.

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