GMO news related to United Kingdom

25.07.2018 |

ECJ rules in favour of tough regulation for new GM techniques

UK umbrella campaign GM Freeze today welcomed a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision to ensure proper regulation of controversial new genetic engineering techniques.

Supporting the position taken by environmental campaigners, the judgement states that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). In addition, it states clearly that the only techniques that can escape full GMO regulation are those that already had a history of safe use in 2001.

25.07.2018 |

Campaign groups demand action as Rothamsted Research GM field trial is ruled unlawful

GM Freeze and GeneWatch UK have today written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, to demand the immediate halt of an unlawful trial of gene edited plants at Rothamsted Research. The trial of genetically modified (GM) Camelina sativa, includes some plants which have been genetically modified using new gene editing techniques. These plants did not go through the required legal process of an environmental risk assessment and public consultation.

Environmental and consumer organisations have repeatedly pointed out that gene edited plants and animals are covered by regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which require environmental risk assessments, food safety assessments and traceability and labelling of products. These important legal requirements are designed to protect human health and the environment and to allow consumers to choose to avoid GM foods, should they wish to do so. However, the field trial at Rothamsted was allowed to go ahead based on incorrect advice that these important safeguards were unnecessary. Today, a ruling from the European Court of Justice confirmed that GMO regulations do in fact apply to gene edited crops.

The organisations call for the current trial to end immediately and for any future trials to follow the legal requirements for GMOs.

18.07.2018 |

New Study Finds Unintended Consequences of CRISPR Gene Editing

Scientists and biotechnologists have heralded the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system as revolutionary way to edit DNA, like scissors and a glue stick for the genome. But a new study found some potentially harmful unintended effects.

This isn’t the first time a paper has found flaws in CRISPR’s abilities, though one previous paper on the matter has been retracted. But many feel this new research is worth taking seriously, and that CRISPR might cause large, unexpected deletions to a cell’s genome.

“We speculate that current assessments may have missed a substantial proportion of potential genotypes generated by on-target Cas9 cutting and repair, some of which may have potential pathogenic consequences following somatic editing of large populations of mitotically active cells,” the authors of the study from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom write in the paper published this week in Nature Biotechnology. Basically, past research may have missed lots of CRISPR’s potentially harmful consequences.

17.07.2018 |

CRISPR causes greater genetic damage than previously thought

Caution required for using CRISPR in potential gene therapies – and food plants

Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute have discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought. These results create safety implications for gene therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 in the future as the unexpected damage could lead to dangerous changes in some cells. Potential consequences could include triggering cancer.

Reported on 16 July 2018 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the study also revealed that standard tests for detecting DNA changes miss finding this genetic damage, and that caution and specific testing will be required for any potential gene therapies.

As usual we see far more honesty about the off-target effects of CRISPR from genetic engineers in the field of medical research than we see from the plant genetic engineers. However, the technique as used in plants is the same, as are the mechanisms of DNA repair. These off-target effects in food plants could have possible knock-on effects on food safety, including unexpected toxicity and allergenicity.

16.07.2018 |

Potential CRISPR damage has been 'seriously underestimated,' study finds

From the earliest days of the CRISPR-Cas9 era, scientists have known that the first step in how it edits genomes — snipping DNA — creates an unholy mess: Cellular repairmen frantically try to fix the cuts by throwing random chunks of DNA into the breach and deleting other random bits. Research published on Monday suggests that’s only the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg: CRISPR-Cas9 can cause significantly greater genetic havoc than experts thought, the study concludes, perhaps enough to threaten the health of patients who would one day receive CRISPR-based therapy.

The results come hard on the heels of two studies that identified a related issue: Some CRISPR’d cells might be missing a key anti-cancer mechanism and therefore be able to initiate tumors.

The DNA damage found in the new study included deletions of thousands of DNA bases, including at spots far from the edit. Some of the deletions can silence genes that should be active and activate genes that should be silent, including cancer-causing genes.

06.06.2018 |

Feed me the Truth … about the GM crops being fed to the animals that produce our meat, eggs and dairy products.

UK supermarkets are using GM animal feed in their own brand supply chains. If you buy non-organic eggs, milk, dairy products, poultry, red meat or farmed fish you are most likely buying GM-fed – without even knowing it.

Take action now

- Show that shoppers want a GM free supply chain by asking your supermarket to feed you the truth about GM-fed products

- Put people in the picture about GM animal feed

- Feed the Truth to your local community by staging a campaign event in your area

Download our Feed me the Truth Action Guide to get more involved, as a group or an individual campaigner.

08.03.2018 |

Concerns Over a Monsanto - Bayer Merger

Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, has until 5th April to reach a final decision as to whether or not to approve the takeover of Monsanto by Bayer. If the company wins conditional antitrust approval for its $62.5 billion bid, the merger would create a company with a share of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market.

The consideration of the merger has already been a lengthy process. Bayer has moved to resolve some of Vestager’s main concerns after she opened an in-depth probe into the deal in August. To placate opposition voices, the corporations have divested some key assets (such as Bayer’s LibertyLink) to reduce the appearance of monopolistic market control but the deal may be permanently blocked unless Bayer makes more significant concessions.

It is generally assumed that if approved, the merger would create a risky consolidation of corporate power that could make life more difficult for farmers using pesticides and manufactured fertilisers. These mergers could threaten food sovereignty around the world by limiting the ability of farmers to make independent choices for themselves, and lock them into damaging and detrimental contracts. It is certainly essential that EU regulators properly investigate before it’s too late.

20.02.2018 |

UK: Help oppose new GM trial

On 20 February Rothamsted Research applied for permission to plant highly experimental GM Camelina Sativa at their farm in Hertfordshire.

GM Freeze has consistently led the opposition to open air field trials in the UK. We have supported hundreds of people to make their feelings known in a constructive way. We would like to do the same this time but we have a problem that we haven’t faced before.

In the past we have used our core funds to cover the cost of responding to trial applications but last year saw a 40% drop in core grant funding. We have found new funders but they will only support specific projects planned well in advance, rather than emergencies like this.

21.01.2018 |

Report highlights opportunities and risks associated with synthetic biology and bioengineering

Human genome editing, 3D-printed replacement organs and artificial photosynthesis – the field of bioengineering offers great promise for tackling the major challenges that face our society. But as a new article out today highlights, these developments provide both opportunities and risks in the short and long term.

Rapid developments in the field of synthetic biology and its associated tools and methods, including more widely available gene editing techniques, have substantially increased our capabilities for bioengineering – the application of principles and techniques from engineering to biological systems, often with the goal of addressing 'real-world' problems.

In a feature article published in the open access journal eLife, an international team of experts led by Dr Bonnie Wintle and Dr Christian R. Boehm from the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, capture perspectives of industry, innovators, scholars, and the security community in the UK and US on what they view as the major emerging issues in the field.

11.01.2018 |

Agri-Activism Opportunity

Are you a pro-active person, interested in sustainable agriculture, willing to get your hands dirty and your voice louder for a sustainable food system?

"Four weeks ago I left my ordinary Dutch life to give it a try: working on a remote organic farm in Wales and work on a sustainable food system. I knew I was going to learn a lot of new things but I didn't know I was going to have so much FUN!!" - Tosca Boot, Agri-Activist volunteer 2017

Every summer, we pair up four volunteers for placements on a beautiful, community-supported, organic, family farm in Wales. But this isn't ordinary WWOOFing – it is a two-in-one opportunity, during which you will tackle the problems of our current food system and work towards sustainable solutions.

The farm is run by Gerald Miles, a prominent campaigner who has been at the heart of the anti-GM movement in the UK for decades. Volunteers get hands-on experience in working on an organic farm rooted at the heart of a local community and get involved in planning and delivering campaigns to make the local area herbicide- and pesticide-free, as well as raising awareness about the risks of GMOs in agriculture.

EnglishFranceDeutsch