GMO news related to Germany

29.06.2017 |

Still no solution regarding patents on plants and animals

by No Patents on Seeds

The 38 Contracting States of the European Patent Office (EPO) at their meeting in The Hague decided to strengthen prohibitions in European patent law in regard to the breeding of plants and animals.

However, at the same time, new loopholes have been created that will allow the relevant prohibitions to be eroded. As a result, the EPO will shortly resume granting patents on conventionally bred plants and animals. Already in May 2017, companies were informed that several patents on plants derived from random mutations are ready to be granted. The legal and political controversy will continue.

"Pressure from civil society succeeded in strengthening current prohibitions in European patent law. But this is not yet a long term solution," says Christoph Then, spokesperson for "No Patents on Seeds!" The EPO and big business will continue to abuse patent law to privatise the resources of daily food production. In reaction, we will maintain our pressure on political decision-makers."

26.06.2017 |

Through the back door: European Patent Office wants to expand patenting of plants and animals

Important political decision on prohibitions in European patent law expected this week

26 June 2017

On Wednesday this week, the 38 contracting states of the European Patent Office will meet in La Hague to make a decision on the future interpretation of existing prohibitions in European patent law in regard to the breeding of plants and animals. The EU Parliament and the EU Commission are demanding that such patents are confined to genetic engineering. According to a proposal presented by the EPO, some of these patents will indeed no longer be granted in future. However, at the same time, new loopholes are being created that will allow the avoidance of the relevant prohibitions. Consequently, it is more than likely that there will be an overall increase in the number of patents granted on conventional breeding.

European patent law already prohibits patents on “essentially biological processes” i.e. breeding processes that do not use genetic engineering for the breeding of plants and animals. Nevertheless, the EPO has in the past granted several patents on plants bred through crossing and selection or other random processes, such as mutations. According to current proposal of the EPO, in future patents will only be refused if they claim plants or animals directly produced by crossing and selection. However, the prohibitions will become immediately ineffective and invalid for these plants or animals if a specific genetic condition is claimed.

28.04.2017 |

Marriage of death: Protesters oppose Bayer-Monsanto merger

At Bayer's annual general meeting in Bonn, environmentalists and politicians voiced discontent over the proposed takeover. Both companies have come under fire for substandard ethical and environmental practices.

At today's annual general meeting of pharmaceutical company Bayer in Bonn, environmental organizations, politicians from the Greens and concerned citizens were all steadfast in their shared goal: the Bayer-Monsanto merger must be stopped.

Bayer's intention to take over the United States-based seeds and agrochemicals company for just under 59 billion euros ($64 billion) was met with widespread anger due to Monsanto's poor environmental record and the possibility that it may grant it an even broader market for pesticides.

The agriculture minister for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Johannes Remmel, expressed his concerns to DW: "The merger would create a central market position for these two very powerful corporations, pushing smaller farms out of the agricultural sector."

"We cannot allow that."

28.04.2017 |

World Business Report, Protests at Bayer AGM over Monsanto deal

Last year when the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer unveiled a $66 billion deal to buy Monsanto, the giant American agrichemical and biotechnology corporation, the plan provoked protests.

That opposition to the deal was played out again at Bayer's Annual General Meeting in Bonn, especially by shareholders who are angry about not getting an open vote on it.

19.04.2017 |

Stop BAYER / MONSANTO days of action in Germany

Along with the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, IFOAM Organics International, Colabora and many other civil society movements and organisations, Navdanya is co-organising a “Stop Bayer / Monsanto” mobilization in Germany from 25-29 of April 2017.

More and more farmers movements, environmental groups, trade unions and students organizations are joining the series of actions, which will converge in Bonn on April 28th, for a demonstration in front of the World Conference Center where the 2017 Bayer shareholders meeting will be held.

19.03.2017 |

Glyphosate Back in the News – Regulation, Revolving Doors, Pesticides & Politics

As the ECHA maintain “that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction” we take a look at how closely European politics and industry work together on pesticide regulation – and what this means.

As expected, the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has refused to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen. The ECHA maintained that glyphosate is “a substance causing serious eye damage and being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects” in their opinion, published last week. However the RAC concluded “that the available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or as toxic for reproduction.”

16.03.2017 |

Clean bill of health for glyphosate - a fatal decision of ECHA

On 15 March 2017 the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced its decision on the weedkiller glyphosate: a complete acquittal with regard to cancer risk, possible genotoxicity and reproductive toxicity.

At a press conference, the representatives of ECHA explained that there was "not enough evidence" for carcinogenic effects. It was admitted that there were signs of cancer in the studies, which, however, were only "slightly" above background. It can be seen in the available official reports that the "background data" - the so-called historical control data - were violating the scientific rules and purpose-made to dismiss the findings. This clearly did not seem to have disturbed ECHA's Risk Assessment Committee. Asked whether the precautionary principle was applied to the evaluation, Jack de Bruijn from the ECHA said that all the data had been looked at and then a "weight of evidence approach" had been used. The precautionary principle was "not so much applied". PAN Germany recently presented a thorough review of such a "weight of evidence judgment" (http://www.pan-germany.org/download/The_Carcinogenic_Hazard_of_Glyphosate.pdf). "It is disappointing that the ECHA has apparently also made use of such an industry-friendly weight of evidence", says Peter Clausing of PAN Germany.

08.03.2017 |

German retailer asks suppliers to reduce glyphosate MRLs

German supermarket chain Aldi Süd is putting pressure on itssuppliers to reduce residues of the herbicide, glyphosate, to a maximum of 20%of EU maximum residue limits (MRLs), German media report. Aldi has said in aletter to the suppliers that “possible

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15.02.2017 |

GMO'Golden Rice': Unexpected genomic effects

Rice plants show reduced growth and irregular gene expression

15 February 2017 / A new publication has reported unintended effects in genetically engineered rice producing precursors of vitamin A, so-called carotenoids. Crossing the manipulated rice with the Indian variety Swarna led to a nasty surprise: The resulting plants showed extensive disturbance in their growth. The researchers identified several reasons for this: The new gene constructs interfere with the plant’s own gene for producing growth hormones, and the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of chlorophyll that is essential for vital functions in the plants.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.

The observed effects are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties. In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

05.02.2017 |

Consultation on Breeding Techniques

The realm of breeding techniques is rapidly evolving. The recent introduction and broad uptake of new genetic engineering techniques raises potential for huge impacts on our planet and society.

IFOAM - Organics International has convened an expert Working Group to study the full breadth of the topic and its effects both within and beyond the organic sector. The Working Group has drafted a position paper, which is now released for global consultation and feedback. We hereby request your review and comments so that we may further improve it.

At the next General Assembly of the organic movement, which is immediately following the 19th Organic World Congress in New Delhi, India in November 2017, the membership of IFOAM - Organics International is expected to vote on the position that the organic sector will take with respect to the full spectrum of known breeding techniques. (This new position complements the recently updated IFOAM - Organics International Position on Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms.)

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The deadline for comments is 31 March 2017.

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