GMO news related to Germany

04.12.2016 |

International biodiversity conference in Mexico: German Minister for the Environment opposed to the release of organisms with a 'gene-drive'

The uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms is already a reality

4 December 2016 / The German Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, has taken a clear stand against any release of genetically engineered organisms inheriting a 'gene drive'. In a statement she says, “I share your concern that 'gene drives' can severely impact ecosystems, and believe that special precautions are needed in research and risk assessment. From an environmental point of view, I do not think that a release of organisms inheriting a 'gene drive' can be justified with our current level of knowledge.” Her letter was sent to civil society organisations (CSOs) in Germany ahead of the 13 Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will take place from 4 - 17 December in Mexico.

Besides genetic information, so-called ’gene-drives’ also change the frequency of heredity. Gene drives are created by using new methods of genetic engineering, known as CRISPR-Cas. Once inserted into an organism, the newly introduced DNA will be transferred homozygously in each generation, and therefore spread throughout populations much faster than would be the case with natural heredity. Currently, there are ongoing discussions about whether this method should be applied in the genetic engineering of natural populations, such as insects, weeds and wild animals. Once released, these organisms can cause irreversible damage in ecological systems – and there are no known measures that can be taken to withdraw them from the environment.

29.11.2016 |

Testbiotech EU Newsletter 3/2016 (November 2016)

Most important topics: Complaint against EU authorisation for 'toxic soybeans' / Genetically engineered maize can give rise to superweeds / International research project / Golden Rice: Nobel Prize laureates caught up in sales campaign for biotech company?

Overview of Topics

Current Issues and Activities

- Testbiotech complaint against the EU authorisation for 'toxic soybeans'

- Genetically engineered maize can give rise to superweeds

- Conflicts of interest in EU risk research: EU Ombudsman calls for more transparency

- New Testbiotech report on genetic engineering of animals and animal experiments

- Testbiotech comment on maize Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21

- Testbiotech comment on soybean 305423 x 40-3-2

Scientific news

- Independent scientists set up international research project

- EFSA caught up in massive conflicts of interest whilst at the same time dismissing scientific findings

24.11.2016 |

Genetically engineered maize: risks not under control

Companies disregarding EU regulation

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The EU Commission wants to allow the cultivation of genetically engineered maize before the growing season 2017 starts. Three variants of transgenic maize producing insecticidal toxins, registered as MON810, Maize 1507 and Bt 11, are being considered. Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer and Syngenta are pushing for the market introduction of the seeds. EU Member States are expected to vote on this issue on 9 December.

As shown in a new Testbiotech backgrounder, large-scale cultivation of the transgenic plants can result in risks to health and agro-ecosystems, none of which have ever been assessed in detail, including various combinatorial effects. Moreover, the transgene may spread into the environment via gene flow to teosinte, a wild relative of maize. In addition experts put in question if the transgenic plants provide any benefits to the farmers.

The Testbiotech analysis shows that all the above-mentioned companies are intentionally breaching EU regulations; for several years, they concealed the fact that teosinte plants had appeared in Spanish maize fields.

23.11.2016 |

Strict approvals needed for gene-edited crops: German minister

The European Union should apply strict approval standards to new generations of gene-edited crops similar to those for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Germany's junior environment minister said on Tuesday.

Gene-editing technology such as CRISPR/Cas9 allows scientists to edit genes by using biological "scissors" which can find and replace selected stretches of DNA.

Disease-resistant pigs and field crops are being developed but there have been calls for the new techniques to be subjected to the strict approval system for GMO plants.

The German government, traditionally skeptical of GMOs and other biotech food, is still formulating its policy toward the new generation of gene-edited agricultural products.

"It is important that GMO approval criteria should be applied here," junior environment minister Jochen Flasbarth told Reuters.

This is because the changes in the plants can have a significant impact and the possibly to turn back changes may not be available without a strict approval process, he said.

The EU is also still considering whether to class gene-edited plants as genetically modified. Supporters of the new technology maintain this is unneeded as no extra genes are added to the crops.

02.11.2016 |

German cabinet approves draft law banning GMO crops

Under the draft German law, applicants seeking EU approval to cultivate GMO crops will be asked by the German government to remove Germany from the area in the EU where the crops are approved for growing.

If this is refused, a ban on growing the GMO crop in Germany can be imposed even if the EU approves the plant strain as safe to cultivate.

06.10.2016 |

German federal government, states to decide jointly on GMO crops-draft law

Germany's federal and state governments will in future decide together whether to ban the cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are allowed in the European Union, a draft law showed, ending a long dispute.

An EU law in March 2015 cleared the way for the approval of new GMO crops after years of deadlock. But it also gave individual countries the right to ban GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.

In Sept. 2015, Germany told the EU it would not permit the cultivation of GMO crops but there has been disagreement whether this ban should be undertaken by federal or state authorities.

24.09.2016 |

German Lawmakers Oppose Bayer-Monsanto Merger

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) Bayer AG, a German-based pharmaceutical company recently proposed a $66 billion takeover of U.S. seed company, Monsanto Co. – an idea that was not well received by the German people.

From one perspective, Monsanto was an advocate of genetically modified crops and a weed killer that could cause cancer, and had no place in the German market.

23.09.2016 |

Chefs join MEPs in opposing Bayer-Monsanto merger

A group of MEPs has asked the Commission to examine the Bayer-Monsanto merger, and some of France’s best-known chefs have written an open letter condemning the invasion of the food chain by the agrochemical industry. EurActiv France reports.

A group of 55 MEPs yesterday (22 September) sent a letter to the European Commission, expressing their concern over the fusion of agricultural and chemical giants Bayer and Monsanto. Written by Green MEP Michèle Rivasi, the letter was co-signed by 54 of her colleagues, primarily from the European Parliament’s left-wing groups (Greens/EFA, S&D, GUE/NGL).

In it, the lawmakers urged the European executive’s DG Competition to address the subject quickly, if only because the new super-corporation’s €23 billion revenue would so far exceed the €5bn threshold for Commission scrutiny. The company’s European revenue is also well above €250 million, and Bayer and Monsanto are both big players on the same pesticides and seeds markets.

08.09.2016 |

GMO-free zones in Germany

347 GMO-free-municipalities, 215 GMO-free-regions and 31,960 GMO-free-farmers´ land have been declared as GMO-free zones in Germany.

25.08.2016 |

Who is to blame for the failure of GM golden rice?

Press release 25 August 2016

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

The recent Nobel laureates’ open letter to the United Nations and governments around the world, accusing Greenpeace of a “crime against humanity” for opposing genetically modified (GMO) golden rice, elicited a reaction from scientists Angelika Hilbeck and Hans Herren (Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich). They point out that the letter does not recognise the facts about golden rice and makes many scientifically unsubstantiated claims. Among the Nobel laureate signatories, there seems to be hardly anybody with a solid scientific track record in agriculture, food production, development, or the socio-ecological and political causes of poverty and hunger. Others with notable competence – at least in the economic and social domains of development, poverty, and hunger – are not among the signatories. Hilbeck and Herren present the missing facts.