GMO news related to Germany

18.12.2020 |

New GE unintentionally leaves traces in cells

CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications cause changes in gene regulation

18 December 2020 / A new scientific publication shows that CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications in animals unintentionally leave traces. The findings are not related to unintended changes in the DNA, which have often been described, but to gene regulation, i.e. epigenetics. The effects are heritable and may, for example, result in disruption of embryonic development.

The new scientific publication describes CRISPR/Cas experiments with mice in which their DNA is cut and additional genetic information inserted. Besides intended changes in DNA in the target region, the findings also showed unintended changes in so-called epigenetic markers that control gene regulation. The effects were heritable and could still be identified after ten generations. According to the authors, the effects can also be used to identify CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications.

11.12.2020 |

Are GE plants with Bt toxins 20 times more toxic than previously known?

EFSA has for decades ignored crucial data from Monsanto

Friday, 11 December 2020

Data from Monsanto revealed that Bt proteins expressed in genetically engineered (GE) plants are significantly more toxic than natural Bt toxins. It is more than 30 years ago since, in 1990, Monsanto data first showed that if mixed with plant material from, e.g. soybeans, cotton and maize, toxicity could be up to 20 times higher. This is due to enzymes naturally present in the tissues of many crop plants. These findings were never taken into account by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It seems as if EFSA simply overlooked the relevant publications. EFSA routinely accepts tests with isolated Bt proteins produced by bacteria to assess the risks of GE plants.

Testbiotech became aware of this 30-year old Monsanto publication whilst assessing new applications for import approval of GE plants. Testbiotech has also become aware of several more recent publications confirming the original Monsanto findings.

11.12.2020 |

New study reveals dramatic rise in global pesticide poisonings

Worldwide poisonings up from 25 million in 1990 to 385 million today

In a comprehensive new study, scientists report that pesticide poisonings on farms around the world have risen dramatically since the last global assessment 30 years ago. Based on an evaluation of available poisoning data from countries all over the world, the researchers conclude that there are about 385 million cases of acute poisonings each year, up from an estimated 25 million cases in 1990.

This means that about 44% of the global population working on farms — 860 million farmers and agricultural workers – are poisoned every year.

The systematic review of unintentional acute pesticide poisonings was published today in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Public Health. The article, entitled “The global distribution of acute unintentional pesticide poisoning: Estimations based on a systematic review,” is the first such global estimate since 1990.

25.11.2020 |

Genetic engineering is endangering the livelihoods of future generations
Genetic engineering is endangering the livelihoods of future generations

EFSA: Confusion about risks associated with New GE plants

Opinion of the EU authority considered insufficient and misleading

25 November 2020 / Testbiotech is extremely critical of a recent European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) opinion on the risks associated with plants derived from new genetic engineering (New GE). It considers the EFSA report on CRISPR & Co is both inadequate and misleading on the protection of health and the environment.

In its opinion published yesterday, EFSA claims that applications of gene scissors, such as CRISPR/Cas on plants, do not pose any specific risks as long as no additional genes are inserted. At the same time, EFSA agrees with Testbiotech that New GE opens up the way to new genetic combinations since it makes the whole genome accessible for changes caused, for example, by targeting several genes at once.

13.11.2020 |

save our seeds
save our seeds

Press statement by Save Our Seeds on EFSAs advise for the risk assessment of Gene Drive Insects

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), on 12.11.2020 published an assessment on whether the currently existing European guidelines for the risk assessment of genetically modified insects are sufficient for the risk assessment of genetically modified Gene Drive insects.

Mareike Imken, Gene Drive policy advisor at Save Our Seeds for Gene Drive technology, comments on this:

EFSAs assessment, that existing guidelines for genetically engineered insects are insufficient in order to conduct environmental risk assessment for Gene Drive Organisms,

confirms our analysis. Due to their novel characteristics it will be extremely challenging – if not impossible – to uimodel, predict and monitor the behaviour of these genetically engineered organisms.

22.10.2020 |

Why New Genetic Engineering needs to be regulated

New report - frequently asked questions about CRISPR & Co

22 October 2020 / Testbiotech is publishing a new report today on New Genetic Engineering (New GE) that shows why these techniques need to be strictly regulated. New GE - or ‘genome editing’ - opens up new possibilities which go way beyond conventional breeding and previous methods of genetic engineering. One of the most important tools in this scenario are CRISPR/Cas gene scissors (nuclease). In contrast to chemical or physical mutagens used in conventional breeding, tools such as CRISPR/Cas can directly interact with biological mechanisms in the cells.

Recent research clearly shows that there are major differences in New GE compared to conventional breeding: over the course of evolution, mechanisms have emerged which can protect specific genomic regions against too frequent mutations. These mechanisms can be described as the ‘flexible safety barriers’ of evolution, and are also effective in conventional breeding. They appear to be relevant to regions in the genome that are of some importance to the survival of a species. New GE is designed to circumvent these mechanisms.

07.10.2020 |

CRISPR/Cas: Nobel Prize potentially opens up ‘Pandora’s Box’

Testbiotech warns against hype around genetic engineering technology

7 October 2020 / The inventors of the CRISPR/Cas “gene-scissor” technology have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Christoph Then from Testbiotech comments as follows: “This is a Nobel Prize that could potentially open up ‘Pandora’s Box’. The future of our earth now depends substantially on whether we will be able to set clear and strict limits to this new genetic engineering technology. We must protect human, plant and animal genomes from becoming an object of technological hubris and financial gain.”

30.09.2020 |

Lobby activities disguised as science

Questionable Statement of Leopoldina and DFG on New GE

30 September 2020 / In a letter to the president of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Prof. Dr. Gerald Haug, Testbiotech has raised some serious questions in relation to a virtual conference planned by Leopoldina and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The organisers plan to present a ‘Statement’ on new genetic engineering techniques (New GE, also called genome editing) and plant breeding during the conference. The authors of the ‘Statement’ claim that there are no specific risks associated with the application of genetic engineering in plant breeding and are demanding changes to EU GMO regulation. As a consequence, most genetically engineered organisms would no longer undergo mandatory risk assessment and approval process as requested by current EU regulation.

23.09.2020 |

Gene drives: Navigating perils of engineered eradication, with Christoph Then

Imagine a world without natural enemies like parasites or deadly pathogens. Where crops grow unfettered by rodent and insect pests. Advances in genetic engineering now hold the possibility to alter genomes at the population level, but is it too good to be true? A critical review in the September 2020 issue of IEAM delves into environmental risk assessments for controversial gene drives in the European Union. Lead author Christoph Then talks with us about the challenges facing risk assessors of gene drives and a potential cut-off criteria presented in the study. Access the article in the September 2020 issue of IEAM.

12.08.2020 |

New genetic engineering techniques associated with numerous risks

New scientific paper demonstrates the need for process oriented risk assessment

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

A new scientific paper published in the Environmental Sciences Europe journal gives an overview of the risks associated with genome editing procedures (new genetic engineering) for plants and animals. The risks are not only restricted to a wide range of unintended effects that can be triggered by the process of genome editing. There are also risks associated with the intended biological characteristics generated through genome editing.

Genome editing techniques, in particular those using the CRISPR/Cas 'gene scissors', increase the possibilities and speed with which the genomes of plants and animals can be altered. It does not matter whether additional genes are introduced into the genome or not. Small genetic modifications are often performed in combination and can cause significant changes in metabolic pathways and plant composition. The study concludes that the novel, intended properties must be thoroughly tested, even if no additional genes are inserted.

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