GMO news related to Germany

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“Compounds that are particularly toxic to vertebrates have been replaced by compounds with less vertebrate toxicity and that is indeed a success,” said Prof Ralf Schulz, of the University Koblenz and Landau in Germany, who led the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


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’.

19.03.2021 |

European Patent Office finally revokes Monsanto patent on melons

However, further patents on seeds can still be granted

19 March 2021 / The Technical Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office (EPO) has confirmed the revocation of a patent on melons held by Monsanto (EP1962578). In the patent, Monsanto claims melons with a natural resistance to plant viruses as an ‘invention’; the melons were derived from conventional breeding and not genetically engineered. The resistance was originally detected in Indian melons. This patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2011, even though European patent law does not allow patents on plant varieties or conventional breeding processes.

19.02.2021 |

Successful opposition to a patent on genetically engineered ‘Parkinson-apes’

Max Planck Society withdraws all claims covering vertebrates

19 February 2021 / Testbiotech has won an important opposition filed at the European Patent Office (EPO). A patent held by the Max Planck Society will now be changed to delete all claims covering genetically engineered vertebrates. In its original form the patent covered many different species from mice to great apes. The animals were to be genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Parkinson disease and for use in experiments. The new EPO decision was based on ethical considerations; the expected suffering of the animals would have been disproportionate to any substantial medical benefit as requested in European law.

18.02.2021 |

EFSA: Risk assessment of New GE plants necessary even if no additional genes are inserted

European Food Safety Authority presents new report

18 February 2021 / The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published another report on the risk assessment of plants developed with new genetic engineering (New GE). The report includes plants generated using gene scissor CRISPR/Cas applications where no new additional genes are inserted (so-called SDN-1 applications). The EFSA report shows that detailed risk assessment must be carried out even if no additional genes are inserted. The report is the outcome of a consultation which included Testbiotech.

The example chosen by EFSA is wheat, derived from application of CRISPR/Cas, with a strongly reduced gluten content. This protein is thought to trigger inflammatory responses. Using CRISPR/Cas meant that several dozen genes and gene copies in the wheat genome were changed at the same time. EFSA rightly concludes that these complex patterns of genetic change go beyond what has been achieved in genetic engineering and conventional breeding thus far. EFSA explained that if an application for market approval was filed, then risk assessment should take issues such as molecular changes, gene expression and the potential impact on health and the environment into account.