GMO news related to Germany

07.11.2018 |

Baysanto “patent on severed broccoli” revoked

Success for coalition against patents on seeds

7.11.2018 / The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked patent EP1597965 covering traditionally bred broccoli. The plants are supposed to grow a little bit higher so that they can be harvested more easily. The patent was granted in 2013 to Monsanto, which has meanwhile been bought up by Bayer. The revocation follows an opposition filed in 2014 by a broad coalition of organizations.

The decision of the EPO is based upon new rules for the examination of patents adopted in 2017. Accordingly, patents on plants and animals can no longer be granted if they are derived from conventional breeding using methods like crossing and selection. It is the first time that these new rules have resulted in the revocation of a patent. However, there is still some legal uncertainty: just recently, in October 2018, the EPO rejected oppositions against patents held by the Carlsberg & Heineken breweries on conventionally bred barley.

“This is an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organizations against patents on plants and animals. Without our activities, the EPO rules would not have been changed and the patent would still be valid. The giant corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta and BASF, have failed in their attempt to completely monopolize conventional breeding through using patents,” says Christoph Then for No Patents on Seeds!. “But there are still huge legal loopholes as shown in the case of conventionally bred barley. Political decision makers now have to take further action.”

22.10.2018 |

Will EU Commission allow import of new Baysanto "monster" maize?

GM maize is super-resistant to herbicides and produces six insecticidal toxins

EU Member States will today vote on whether a new GM maize that is super-resistant to the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate and produces six insecticides can be imported. The maize is produced by crossing five different GM plants. Bayer wants approval for import and use in food and feed. The health impacts resulting from the specific combination of potential toxic substances have not been investigated.

The GM maize was produced by Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer. The maize is part of a business strategy to market the herbicide and patented seeds as a package: the plants inherit duplicate genes for glyphosate and glufosinate resistance and each of the herbicides can therefore be sprayed at higher dosages. As a result, in addition to the insecticidal proteins produced in the plants, the harvested kernels may have a high load of herbicide residues from spraying.

The potential detrimental effects on health from the consumption of food and feed derived from these maize plants were not tested in any feeding study. The EU Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are of the opinion that in general such combinatorial effects do not require investigation.

07.09.2018 |

GMO Free Regions Conference calls for a moratorium on “Gene Drives”

More than 200 participants from GMO Free Regions throughout Europe, as well as guests from North-America, Asia, New Zealand and Africa (35 nations in total) met in Berlin to discuss new an old challenges of genetic engineering in agriculture as well as the environment at large. They were relieved and reassured by the recent European Court of Justice’ decision that all forms of genetic engineering, including CRISPR-Cas and other forms of so called “gene editing” fall under the European directive on GMOs. This requires risk assessment and specific approval for each GM product, traceability and labelling.

However, participants agreed that the new GM technologies require special attention and debate and additional risk assessment. A new generation of GMO, “Gene drives”, designed to alter the genetic makeup of entire species, including their potential extinction, was of major concern. Such Gene Drive Organisms (GDOs) should not be released into the environment anywhere on the world, participants agreed.

The network of 64 gmo free regional governments, hosting the 2nd day of the Conference, adopted a Berlin Declaration, that calls for a European and global moratorium of Gene Drives and demands that national governments as well as the EU take on this issue at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity. When presenting the declaration, the networks President Dr. Beatrix Tappeser, said: “Let us continue the precautionary approach, and maintain our GMO Free pathway, that has served the European Regions so well over the past decade. There needs to be more public investment in the agriculture people really want.”

Benny Haerlin of “Save Our Seeds”, who organised the NGO-part of the conference, added: “The debate about GMOs, including recent promises of “new” genetic engineering are not just a matter of safety and precaution. The dispute about these technologies is about the kind of agriculture we want for the future: Multinational industry driven techno-innovation versus small farmers driven agroecology.”

06.09.2018 |

One-sided attacks and biased reporting of the ECJ judgement regarding new genetic engineering methods reveal an arrogant and unenlightened understanding of science, democracy and law

European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), Berlin, Germany

By Dr Eva Gelinsky and Dr Angelika Hilbeck – ENSSER

Introduction

“Nothing has been “banned”. Interpreting laws that simply recognise the novelty and distinctiveness of different kinds of GM breeding processes, the ECJ is merely offering a consistent framework of interpretation within which continuing healthy reasoned argumentation can be more rigorously played out.”

23.08.2018 |

Bound to fail – The flawed scientific foundations of genetic engineering

Invitation to the public event on the evening before the 9th GMO Free Europe Conference:

Bound to fail – The flawed scientific foundations of genetic engineering

The Central Dogma is 60 years old - but has it always been the new clothes of the emperor?

Public and press event: Wednesday, September 5th 7 – 9.30 pm

GLS Bank, Schumannstraße 10, 10117 Berlin

With:

• Prof. Ignacio Chapela, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

• Prof. Jack Heinemann, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

• Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, EcoNexus, Oxford, UK

• Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

• Dr. Sarah Agapito Tenfen, GenØk - Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway

Organizers:

• European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility

• GLS Gemeinschaftsbank

• Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft

13.08.2018 |

Investors shun Bayer stock over US pesticide ruling

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) -

Investors fled shares in German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer Monday, fearing a massive damages ruling against one of newly-acquired US firm Monsanto's flagship products could signal a wave of costly lawsuits.

(.....)

Nevertheless, "if it's a quarter of a billion dollars per case, you don't need to lose many lawsuits before it becomes quite expensive," said analyst Michael Leacock of MainFirst bank, pointing out that Monsanto faces some 4,000 US lawsuits at the state level and 450 so-called "multi-district" cases at the federal level.

"The total cost, in our view, could easily reach $10 billion" if Bayer were to settle out of court with a still larger number of plaintiffs, he predicted.

18.07.2018 |

New methods of genetic engineering and the 'poisonous CRISPR mushroom'

Testbiotech to release a video clip showing a possible future scenario

18 July 2018 / Today Testbiotech is releasing a video clip about the first mushroom to be created through having its genome manipulated by CRISPR-Cas. It is worldwide the first CRISPR organism to be approved for use in food production: US authorities gave their go-ahead in 2016. Because no additional genes were inserted, the regulatory authorities did not request a detailed risk assessment. As yet, the mushroom is not available on the market.

The video clip aims to highlight an ongoing highly dynamic process in the field of genetic engineering. New tools such as the 'DNA scissor' (nuclease) CRISPR-Cas have become cheaper and more efficient than previous methods. This means that many more plants and animals can be genetically engineered within shorter periods of times than has been the case until now. The technical potential of genome editing goes far beyond what has ever been achieved with previous methods of genetic engineering: radical changes in the genome and the usage of synthetic DNA with no natural template has become reality. Some of these genetic changes are said to be to be very small and precise. The video clip is about such 'small' and targeted genomic changes where no additional DNA sequences are inserted.

07.07.2018 |

Tell Deutsche Bahn it's the end of the line for glyphosate!

It might come as a surprise that a train company is Germany's biggest glyphosate user. Every year, the national railway Deutsche Bahn sprays over 65 thousand kilograms of toxic pesticide on its tracks -- endangering ecosystems throughout the whole country.

Austria’s national railway company has pledged to completely end its use of glyphosate within five years -- there's no reason why Deutsche Bahn can't do the same.

The German government is currently looking for ways to reduce glyphosate use. This is the perfect time to put public pressure on the 100 percent state-owned railway corporation to phase out the dangerous pesticide.

Deutsche Bahn's railway network spans 33,500 kilometers -- that's 33,500 kilometers soaked with glyphosate, spreading its poisonous traces through all of Germany.

07.06.2018 |

Bayer-Monsanto merger creates agrichemical juggernaut

German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer will seal a $63-billion merger with US-based Monsanto Thursday (7 June), creating an agrichemical juggernaut with lofty ambitions to feed the world but feared by environmentalists.

“Feeding a growing world population is a long-term trend, and we want to contribute to its solution,” Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann told business newspaper Handelsblatt in an interview Tuesday.

“Buying Monsanto brings big reputational risks, but also enormous market opportunities,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper judged.

Executives are betting big on projections that around 10 billion people will live on Earth by 2050, meaning more food must grow on the same amount of arable land.

They believe that can best be achieved with technologies rejected by green organisations and politicians, including genetically-modified (GM) seeds designed to resist strong pesticides.

Modified crops and digital tools to help farmers adapt to the weather and monitor the health of their fields could also help swell harvests threatened by climate change.

07.06.2018 |

Germany expects to see record Non-GMO food sales

It seems demand in Germany for Non-GMO milk and dairy products, eggs and poultry remains unabated.

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