GMO-free news from France

14.02.2020 |

Genetic forcing: EFSA caught by industry

The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) association has carried out meticulous investigative work which enables it to affirm that "half of the experts responsible for assessing the potential risks of the technology have financial links with organizations developing this technology and others with conflicts of interest with a company developing genetically modified insects”. These conflicts of interest, recurrent within the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), are likely to compromise the scientific quality and the neutrality of the opinion it will publish.

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.

20.08.2019 |

Population management using gene drive: molecular design, models of spread dynamics and assessment of ecological risks

Conservation Genetics

August 2019, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 671–690

Abstract

CRISPR gene drive has recently been proposed as a promising technology for population management, including in conservation genetics. The technique would consist in releasing genetically engineered individuals that are designed to rapidly propagate a desired mutation or transgene into wild populations. Potential applications in conservation biology include the control of invasive pest populations that threaten biodiversity (eradication and suppression drives), or the introduction of beneficial mutations in endangered populations (rescue drives). The propagation of a gene drive is affected by different factors that depend on the drive construct (e.g. its fitness effect and timing of expression) or on the target species (e.g. its mating system and population structure). We review potential applications of the different types of gene drives for conservation. We examine the challenges posed by the evolution of resistance to gene drives and review the various molecular and environmental risks associated with gene drives (e.g. propagation to non target populations or species and unintended detrimental ecosystem impacts). We provide some guidelines for future gene drive research and discuss ethical, biosafety and regulation issues.

11.04.2019 |

French court finds Monsanto guilty of poisoning farmer

Ruling says chemicals giant knew of weedkiller’s dangers but label lacked warning

A French appeals court has said US chemicals giant Monsanto was guilty of poisoning a farmer who said he suffered neurological damage after accidentally inhaling fumes from a weedkiller made by the company.

Paul François, a cereal farmer, had already won previous lawsuits against Monsanto, which was bought by Germany’s Bayer last year, in 2012 and 2015.

He said he fell ill in 2004 after being exposed to Lasso, a weedkiller containing monochlorobenzene that was legal in France until 2007 but had already been banned in 1985 in Canada and in 1992 in Belgium and Britain.

05.04.2019 |

French rapeseed farmers destroyed 18,000 hectares over GMO risk: Bayer

PARIS (Reuters) - French farmers destroyed a total of 18,000 hectares of rapeseed, more than double the area initially expected, following the discovery of a non-authorized genetically modified organism (GMO) in seeds, German group Bayer said.

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A spokeswoman for Bayer, which had previously estimated around 8,000 hectares of rapeseed would be lost in France, said on Friday the area had reached 18,000 hectares after further precautionary removals of crops, for example when there were doubts over the traceability of seeds.

The latest figures in Germany showed the area of rapeseed destroyed there was 2,150 hectares, slightly lower than initial expectations of 2,500-3,000 hectares, Bayer said on Monday.

01.04.2019 |

Population management using gene drive: molecular design, models of spread dynamics and assessment of ecological risks

Abstract

CRISPR gene drive has recently been proposed as a promising technology for population management, including in conservation genetics. The technique would consist in releasing genetically engineered individuals that are designed to rapidly propagate a desired mutation or transgene into wild populations. Potential applications in conservation biology include the control of invasive pest populations that threaten biodiversity (eradication and suppression drives), or the introduction of beneficial mutations in endangered populations (rescue drives). The propagation of a gene drive is affected by different factors that depend on the drive construct (e.g. its fitness effect and timing of expression) or on the target species (e.g. its mating system and population structure). We review potential applications of the different types of gene drives for conservation. We examine the challenges posed by the evolution of resistance to gene drives and review the various molecular and environmental risks associated with gene drives (e.g. propagation to non target populations or species and unintended detrimental ecosystem impacts). We provide some guidelines for future gene drive research and discuss ethical, biosafety and regulation issues.

24.01.2019 |

Deceptive reporting of GMO90+ EU-funded feeding study on GM maize

GMO90+ study is falsely claimed to show the GM diets had no adverse effects and to refute the Séralini long-term study on GM maize and Roundup

An EU taxpayer-funded rat feeding study on two GM maize varieties found significant differences in the rats that ate the GM diets. These differences could indicate adverse health impacts, but the authors dismissed them as not biologically relevant, without proper scientific justification.

In fact the relevance of the changes is unknown because the study was too short to measure long-term effects, which can take one to two years to show up, and because it was confined to one generation of rats.

The GMO90+ study tested two types of GM maize, NK603 and MON810, over a 6-month period. It was published in December 2018 in the journal Toxicological Sciences under the self-explanatory title, "The GMO90+ project: lack of evidence for biologically significant effects of genetically modified maize based-diets on Wistar rats after 6-months feeding comparative trial". The authors reported no adverse health effects that could be attributed to the GM diets tested.

24.01.2019 |

French court bans sale of controversial weedkiller

Ruling prohibits sale of a glyphosate product to professionals, citing arguments that chemical is potentially carcinogenic.

A French court has banned the sale of Roundup Pro 360 — a weedkiller that contains the controversial ingredient glyphosate — to professional gardeners and farmers.

The ruling follows the ban enacted on 1 January in France on amateur gardeners buying herbicides that contain glyphosate.

The safety of glyphosate — a widely used herbicide — has been under mounting scrutiny since 2015, when a scientific body of the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that it is “probably carcinogenic” to humans, although other studies disagree.

02.01.2019 |

Experts agree: New GMOs can be detected

Dr Yves Bertheau and other experts rebut claims that genome-edited products cannot be distinguished from natural products and thus cannot be detected or regulated

GMO proponents lobbying for lax regulation of GM plants and animals produced with "new GM" techniques, including genome editing, argue that living organisms naturally contain many mutations (DNA damage), making them "natural GMOs". They add that it is often impossible to distinguish mutations induced by the new GM techniques from naturally induced mutations and that therefore GMOs produced with these techniques should not be regulated more strictly than conventionally bred varieties. Furthermore, they argue that GMOs produced with these techniques often cannot be distinguished from naturally bred organisms. They conclude that these GMOs cannot be identified or traced – and because traceability is not possible, it is simply not practical to regulate or label them.

12.12.2018 |

How France and Germany Are Ousting Glyphosate In A Search For Healthy Soils and Pesticide-Free Crops

The Macron Government of France is offering its farmers a way out of glyphosate dependency within the next 3 years.

Millions have been following European discussions on the possible ban (or a new licensing period) for glyphosate-based herbicides; discussions which stemmed from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declaring glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in March, 2015.

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The French solution to glyphosate

In November, 2018, the French government presented possible mechanisms for achieving such a ban. Here is my best understanding on how the French government sees a transition away from glyphosate use while protecting farmers financially.

Overall, the plan emphasizes good farming practices and encourages dialogue among farmers. The government has also declared that no one will be left without a solution if they abandon glyphosate.

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