GMO news related to Germany

22.08.2021 |

Ten approvals for the import of genetically engineered crops rushed through

EU Commission takes controversial decision during the summer break

22 August 2021 / The EU Commission has rushed through ten approvals for the import of genetically engineered (GE) plants. The approvals were issued for maize, soybeans, oilseed rape and cotton, which produce insecticidal toxins and/or are engineered to be resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate; the approvals include seven new variants of GE plants and three renewals. The applications were filed by Monsanto (Bayer), Dow AgroSciences (Corteva) and Syngenta (ChemChina).

The harvest of these plants is now allowed for import and usage in food and feed. The EU Parliament has in recent years passed dozens of resolutions demanding that these imports should not be not allowed.

The huge majority of genetically engineered crops allowed for import into the EU produce several insecticides in combination with resistance to herbicides, such as glyphosate. So far, the EU has systematically avoided assessing combinatorial effects between the various toxins and other constituents in these plants. Amongst others, there are concerns that consumption of these products might enhance or trigger chronic inflammatory processes.

24.07.2021 |

Join Us - Good Food Good Farming

Join us for the #GoodFoodGoodFarming action days from 1 to 31 October 2021! For the past three years, we have mobilised hundreds of events taking place in villages, towns and cities. Let’s pressure our national and regional governments with many decentral actions across the continent to make future-friendly food and agricultural reforms. Get together offline for a demonstration, a protest picnic, a flash mob, or organise online events or workshops. Any format that will draw attention to our shared cause is welcome.

09.07.2021 |

New GE: How to assess the environmental risks?

Scientific publication identifies important cornerstones

9 July 2021 / Experts from environmental authorities in Austria, Germany, Italy, Poland and Switzerland have published a new scientific paper that, for the first time, defines some important initial cornerstones in the environmental risk assessment of plants altered with new genomic techniques (i.e. ‘New GE’ or ‘genome editing’). The authors show that there can be no justification for only risk assessing plants with additionally inserted genes or with extensive genomic changes. Rather, all plants derived from New GE must be subjected to mandatory risk assessment.

In this regard, the authors disagree with the findings set out in a recent EU Commission report, which suggests that only specific categories of New GE plants should be subjected to mandatory risk assessment. The authors of the new publication state: “With a view to the wide range of plant species, GE methods and traits that need to be considered, there is no safety by default for whole groups of GE applications encompassing different individual GE organisms, i.e. without an appropriate ERA prior to the release of GE plants into the environment.”

16.06.2021 |

What is a ‘conventional GMO’?

EU Commission embraces new industry-led terminology

16 June 2021 / Testbiotech is today publishing a backgrounder showing how the EU Commission is trying to establish new official terminology which is set to cause ‘fundamental confusion’ in regulation. Experts with close affiliations to the biotech industry were the first to introduce the new term ‘conventional GMO’ to imply that the methods used in genetic engineering would have no inherent generic risks. This term was then embraced in an EU Commission report without any explanation or justification. A possible consequence could be wide ranging deregulation of genetically engineered organisms ‘through the backdoor’.

The new ‘industry-friendly’ term is used in a Commission report on new genomic techniques (New GE), published in April 2021. The term ‘conventional GMO’ appears throughout the text as well as in the glossary, and is used to mean ‘transgenic’. This gives the impression that genetic engineering is as safe as conventional breeding.

This new terminology is in clear contradiction to a European Court of Justice ruling and EU GMO regulation: the well-established legal meaning of ‘conventional’ lies in the application of traditional breeding methods based on the usage of genetic diversity and natural biological mechanisms. The resulting characteristics can also occur naturally and are considered to be safe. Conversely, genetic engineering techniques are associated with specific inherent risks and can result in genetic changes unlikely to occur in nature.

09.06.2021 |

European Parliament calls for ban on gene drive technology

Precaution prevails in its report on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

9.06.2021, Berlin - The European Parliament yesterday confirmedi it‘s precautionary stance towards the use of a new genetic engineering technology called gene drive. In its report on the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, adopted at the European Parliament’s plenary on 08.06.2021, Parliamentarians demand that „no releases of genetically engineered gene drive organisms should be allowed, including for nature conservation purposes, in line with the precautionary principle.“

09.06.2021 |

CRISPR/Cas Explainer Video 3: Risks (Part 1)

Genome editing applications (especially CRISPR/Cas) in crops are complex and controversially discussed topics. The videos from the „Project Genetic Engineering and the Environment” explain the basics of the technology, the possibilities and the risks associated with CRISPR/Cas gene scissors.

The content of the videos is intended to provide the basis for an informed debate.

We look forward to receiving your feedback and questions about the content of our videos! Just send an email to: info(at)fachstelle-gentechnik-umwelt.de

The risks associated with CRISPR/Cas are explained in two different videos. This video explains the first part of the risks of CRISPR/Cas considering unintended effects on the metabolism of plants and their interactions with ecosystems.

30.04.2021 |

EU Commission wants to reform GMO regulation

Testbiotech points to already existing legal flexibility

30 April 2021 / The EU Commission has published a report on new genomic techniques (New GE, genome editing) in plants and animals. They have concluded that the current EU GMO regulation should be reformed. Its fundamental goals are to promote New GE applications in agriculture and to foster international trade, technology and product development. The Commission is also demanding that decisions on market approvals should consider the potential benefits and not only the outcome of risk assessment. Safety for health and environment should nevertheless be guaranteed. A public consultation will be held in the coming months to resolve open questions.

Testbiotech plans to contribute to the consultation and also sees the need for some adjustment. One reason: in many cases, the risk assessment of the New GE applications is much more complex compared to ‘Old GE’. At the same time, Testbiotech also points out that current regulation provides enough flexibility for adjustments. This is not only relevant for standards in risk assessment. For example, the EU Commission can already take potential benefits into account in its decisions on market approvals. However, as Testbiotech emphasises, these aspects must not be confused with scientific questions of risk assessment.

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.

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