GMO news related to Germany

27.04.2021 |

German Academy statement on gene editing distorts science, endangers public health and environment

The European Commission is likely to publish a study on gene editing this Thursday that is widely expected to argue for deregulating gene editing and other new GM techniques. If it does, it will almost certainly be underpinned by claims made in reports by the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), both of which call on the EU Commission to end the regulation of gene-edited organisms and also older-style transgenic GMOs. EASAC's report explicitly endorsed the Leopoldina statement.

But a damning critique of both statements has just been published by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) and Critical Scientists Switzerland (CSS).

In a press release about its report, ENSSER stated, "The EASAC-endorsed Leopoldina statement, demanding that the EU stops regulating ‘genome-edited’ plants, represents the narrow interests of ‘genome editors’ but it does not demonstrate the scientific objectivity or balance required, nor does it represent any consensus in the scientific community at large beyond the self-interested advocates."

26.04.2021 |

Press Release: A distortion of science and a danger to public and environmental safety

The EASAC-endorsed Leopoldina Statement, demanding that the EU stops regulating ‘genome-edited’ plants, represents the narrow interests of ‘genome editors’ but it does not demonstrate the scientific objectivity or balance required, nor does it represent any consensus in the scientific community at large beyond the self-interested advocates. The EASAC-endorsed Leopoldina Statement is biased and does not withstand scientific scrutiny. ENSSER and CSS, in a scientific critique of the Leopoldina Statement, urgently call for stringent regulation of ‘genome editing’ to protect public and environmental safety. The so-called ‘genome editing’ techniques, just like the older techniques of genetic modification, give rise to known as well as inadvertently generated risks. Their potential for dual use, abuse and accidental misuse is considerably higher than that of the older techniques and warrants even stricter surveillance. So does their application as gene drives.

25.04.2021 |

Interview with Mareike Imken, coordinator of the European Stop Gene Drives Campaign

Gene drive technology carries high risks. Yet it is being promoted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a solution to malaria. On the occasion of World Malaria Day, the Stop Gene Drives campaign is launching a project that presents different perspectives on the issue of malaria control and presents alternative, possibly less risky approaches and innovations to combat malaria.

In this interview Mareike Imken, coordinator of the European Stop Gene Drives Campaign explains the reasoning behind this project.

13.04.2021 |

What Members of European Parliament should consider when discussing New GE

Testbiotech warns about biotech industry influence

13 April 2021 / The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) at the European Parliament is organising a hearing on New Genetic Engineering (New GE or genome editing) and techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas, on 15 April 2021. A recent European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) opinion will be presented at the hearing. STOA is a service to provide impartial information to the European Parliament, but the current hearing has attracted some criticism.

STOA carried out a stakeholder consultation ahead of the consultation. There is however no sign that it will publish any of the submitted comments. Testbiotech has therefore decided to publicize its input to the consultation in the interests of transparency in a backgrounder. It clearly shows that current GMO regulation is sufficient in regard to genome edited plants.

02.04.2021 |

Pesticide toxicity to invertebrates and pollinators increasing in GM crops

Some just published research in the journal Science completely demolishes claims that the impact of pesticides is declining and that GM crops are contributing to this positive trend.

In fact, the new study shows that not only is the toxic impact of pesticides increasing in the US but that GM crops are no better than conventional non-GM crops in that regard. As The Guardian notes in its report on the study by German researchers, using US government data, it "shows that the toxic impact of pesticides used on genetically modified crops remains the same as conventional crops, despite claims that GM crops would reduce the need for pesticides".

01.04.2021 |

Toxic impact of pesticides on bees has doubled, study shows

Analysis contradicts claims that the environmental impact of pesticides is falling, say scientists

“Compounds that are particularly toxic to vertebrates have been replaced by compounds with less vertebrate toxicity and that is indeed a success,” said Prof Ralf Schulz, of the University Koblenz and Landau in Germany, who led the research. “But at the same time, pesticides became more specific, and therefore, unfortunately, also more toxic to ‘non-target organisms’, like pollinators and aquatic invertebrates.”

Schulz said: “GM crops were introduced using the argument that they would reduce the dependency of agriculture on chemical pesticides. This is obviously not true if you look at toxicity levels.”

01.04.2021 |

Small changes made with gene editing cause severe deformities in plants

New study points to unintended effects of gene editing in plants and potential negative effects on ecosystems

Gene editing causes drastic unwanted effects in gene-edited plants including severe deformities, a new scientific publication in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe shows. This is the case even when the changes are intended by the gene editor to be small tweaks to existing genes rather than, for example, the introduction of new genetic material.

More broadly, the study provides an overview of the negative effects on ecosystems that can result from the release of gene-edited plants. These unintended effects result from the intended changes induced by genome editing, which can affect various metabolic processes in the plants.

30.03.2021 |

Genome-edited plants: negative effects on ecosystems are possible

New scientific publication shows the need for detailed investigation of ecological risks

30 March 2021 / A new scientific publication in the Environmental Sciences Europe journal provides an overview of the unwanted effects the release of genome-edited plants can have on ecosystems. These result from the intended properties induced by genome editing and can contribute to various metabolic processes. The publication is based on Project Genetic Engineering and the Environment (FGU) findings, and is one of the first worldwide to focus on ecological risks associated with specific CRISPR/Cas plant applications.

26.03.2021 |

Genome-edited Camelina sativa with a unique fatty acid content and its potential impact on ecosystems

Conclusions

SDN-1 and SDN-2 applications of CRISPR/Cas induce small-sized changes of the DNA sequence such as small insertions or point mutations at targeted genomic regions. These alterations are often considered comparable to naturally occurring genetic variants in crops. However, many genome-edited plants contain traits or complex genetic combinations that so far have not been established using conventional approaches and must be considered novel. This novel genetic variability can cause unwanted effects in the plants during their development or under stress conditions, and potentially disturb signalling pathways and ultimately plant-environmental interactions in case of a release.

22.03.2021 |

Patents on Seeds: Politicians and the EPO must take responsibility

Handover of signatures prior to Administrative Council meeting at the European Patent Office

22 March 2021 / On the day before the Administrative Council meeting at the European Patent Office (EPO), WeMove Europe, the Munich Environmental Institute and No Patents on Seeds! will be handing over 175.000 signatures against patents on the conventional breeding of plants and animals. As shown in a recent report, several legal loopholes still enable companies to evade prohibitions on patents covering conventional breeding, and allows them to claim plants, seeds and food derived thereof as their ‘invention’.

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