GMO news related to the European Union

02.07.2020 |

Petition | STOP GENE DRIVES

Petition for a ban on the release of gene drive organisms

Gene drive organisms are perhaps one of the most dangerous environmental applications of genetic engineering ever developed: Enabled by new genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, the genetic make-up of living organisms can be fundamentally altered and the natural rules of heredity can be overridden. In this way, wild species can be genetically modified, replaced or even eradicated. Once released into nature, gene drive organisms would be irretrievable. Any field trial would potentially be highly risky. In the worst case scenario the release of gene drive organisms into nature could accelerate the extinction of species and lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems. We call on the German Federal Government, to use its EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2020, to bring about a Europe-wide ban on the release of gene drive organisms and to make good use of its role as the chief negotiator for the EU at the next Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2020 to prevent the first releases of gene drive organisms into nature.

Sign the petition!

02.07.2020 |

Genome editing: Scientifically indefensible, anti-democratic, and harmful to trade

The amendment to the Agriculture Bill seeking to de-regulate gene-edited foods and crops should be discarded

An amendment has been tabled[1] in the UK House of Lords to the Agriculture Bill, seeking to change the definition of a genetically modified organism (GMO) in the UK’s Environmental Protection Act (1990) in order to exempt certain types of new genetic modification techniques, such as gene editing, from GMO regulations, within the context of “Agriculture Research”. This would mean that certain types of genetically modified organisms, including gene-edited ones, would escape safety checks and labelling. The Agriculture Bill will go to the committee stage in the House of Lords on 7 July.

02.07.2020 |

UK: Ask Ministers to reject plans to deregulate genome editing

What’s happening

A new Agriculture Bill is making its way through Parliament. An amendment has been tabled that would give the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (currently George Eustice) the power to change the definition of a GMO and re-classify many forms of genome editing as non-GM. That would mean that those techniques were no longer regulated (meaning no safety checks or GM labelling) and could be used on our farms or in our food without our knowledge or consent.

GM Freeze is working in partnership with Beyond GM and GMWatch to oppose this amendment and other attempts to deregulate the use of genome editing in our food or on our farms.

30.06.2020 |

Open letter: we need a global moratorium on the release of gene drive organisms

Together with over 80 organisations, we wrote to the EU Commission to ask them to support a global moratorium on the release of Gene Drive Organisms.

Gene Drive technology aims to eradicate entire populations of species via genetic engineering, and its effects are currently not reversible. The environmental threat of its release poses serious and novel threats to nature.

The letter calls on EU Environment and Health Commissioners Sinkevičius and Kyriakides to follow the European Parliament's call for a global moratorium ahead of the upcoming COP 15 UN biodiversity talks.

30.06.2020 |

78 organizations call on the European Commission to enact a temporary ban on the novel Gene Drive technology

Press release by Save Our Seeds / Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft, Berlin – Germany

Gene Drive technology: Species extinction through genetic engineering?

78 organizations call on the European Commission to enact a temporary ban on the novel Gene Drive technology.

30. June 2020

In an open letter initiated by Greenpeace EU, Friends of the Earth Europe, IFOAM EU and the German initiative Save Our Seeds, 78 environmental, agricultural, animal welfare and development aid organisations from all over Europe are calling on the EUCommission to outlaw the release of so-called Gene Drive Organisms in the EU and internationally. With this new application of genetic engineering, entire animal populations and species in nature could be reprogrammed or eradicated.

19.06.2020 |

German Green faction pushes for de-regulation of gene editing

Statements reveal scientific ignorance

A German Green faction wants to de-regulate gene editing (see article below from Euractiv.com). Clearly they have no idea of the scientific problems that are constantly unfolding with gene editing technologies, in the form of unintended on-target and off-target effects. These are summarised here. In the case of gene-edited foods and crops, these genetic errors could lead to unexpected toxicity or allergenicity.

One Green MEP states that “The current regulation is very contradictory,” on the grounds that that gene technologies such as CRISPR are used regularly in medical research but not for agriculture.

But it is dishonest and invalid to conflate the use of gene-editing technologies in the medical field with their use in agricultural biotech. In the medical field, all use of GMOs (including gene editing) must be "contained" – in other words, viable GMOs are not allowed to escape into the environment. And all medicines, GM or not, have to go through long and thorough safety tests before being allowed on the market – though we all know that even with those safeguards in place, much can still go wrong.

18.06.2020 |

Council abandons its GMO decision

The Northland Regional Council has reversed last year's decision, made on the casting vote of then chairman Bill Shepherd, not to include provisions to control genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the Coastal Marine Area (CMA) in its proposed regional plan.

The previous council, before October's local body elections, resolved not to include GMO provisions after a long process during which councillors heard and considered expert scientific evidence and feedback from more than 80 submissions over several years.

09.06.2020 |

CRISPR-edited rice shows wide range of unintended mutations

Gene-editing tool "not as precise as expected", say researchers in new study. Report: Claire Robinson

CRISPR gene editing in rice varieties caused a wide range of undesirable and unintended on-target and off-target mutations, according to an important new study authored by a Chinese and Australian team of scientists and published in the Journal of Genetics and Genomics.[1]

The researchers were trying to improve the yield of already high-performing varieties of rice by disrupting the function of a "green revolution" semi-dwarfing gene (SD1). They used a stable transformation method that ensured that the CRISPR editing tool remained active in the plants over four generations, so that they could examine the effects over time.

08.06.2020 |

Don't de-regulate risky gene editing, scientists tell Eustice

Amendment to the Agriculture Bill without full Commons debate is "violation of the political process that is not acceptable in a parliamentary democracy"

A group of MPs, peers and the GMO research establishment is urging the government to introduce genome editing into UK food and farming by sidestepping parliamentary and public scrutiny, as Pat Thomas and Lawrence Woodward of Beyond GM recently reported.

(.....)

If adopted, the Amendment would open the door to the deregulation of genetically engineered crops and animals produced using gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR.

The Amendment has not been debated in the Commons and its attachment to the Bill at this late stage of its passage through Parliament appears to be a blatant attempt to avoid a full and open debate on a crucial issue with widespread implications for the farming and food sector and consumer choice.

Now two scientists familiar with gene-editing technologies have written an Open Letter to George Eustice asking him to reject the Amendment and not propose it to the Lords.

04.06.2020 |

Genetically engineered microorganisms on the rise

Potential applications encompass humans, animals, plants and many ecosystems

4 June 2020 / The number of projects aiming to genetically engineer microorganisms has increased strongly in recent years. More effective techniques of analysis and re-synthesis of gene sequences can now be used as starting point for seeking new markets for ‘SynBio’ organisms. Projects include microorganisms which, for example, colonise the gut of humans or bees, live on the surface or inside plants or are abundant in soils. In addition, there is further ongoing research into viruses, bacteria or microbial fungi known as pathogens, which can be developed for use in vaccines, pesticides or for the military. The risks are especially relevant if SynBio microorganisms are allowed to spread without sufficient control.

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