News

20.07.2020 |

Conflicts of interest plague GM mosquito experiments

Journal refuses to publish scientist’s defence of his paper warning of unexpected outcomes from GM mosquitoes release. Report: Claire Robinson

As the citizens of Florida and Texas prepare to act as subjects in an experiment in which millions of Oxitec's genetically modified mosquitoes would be released in their states, a scandal has emerged around a journal's treatment of a scientific article that drew attention to unanticipated outcomes and risks of the project.

20.07.2020 |

Appeals court upholds groundskeeper's Roundup cancer trial win over Monsanto

In yet another court loss for Monsanto owner Bayer AG, an appeals court rejected the company’s effort to overturn the trial victory notched by a California school groundskeeper who alleged exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicides caused him to develop cancer, though the court did say damages should be cut to $20.5 million.

The Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District of California said Monday that Monsanto’s arguments were unpersuasive and Dewayne “Lee” Johnson was entitled to collect $10.25 million in compensatory damages and another $10.25 million in punitive damages. That is down from a total of $78 million the trial judge allowed.

“In our view, Johnson presented abundant—and certainly substantial— evidence that glyphosate, together with the other ingredients in Roundup products, caused his cancer,” the court stated. “Expert after expert provided evidence both that Roundup products are capable of causing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma… and caused Johnson’s cancer in particular.”

09.07.2020 |

The EU must not de-regulate gene-edited crops and foods

Some members of the outgoing EU Commission and the agbiotech lobby want the regulations governing genetically modified crops and foods relaxed or scrapped to open markets for gene-edited products. But this goes against the science underpinning the technology and could put the public and environment at risk, writes Dr Michael Antoniou.

Dr Michael Antoniou is molecular geneticist at King’s College London

Some members of the outgoing European Commission want to change the EU legislation on genetically modified (GM) foods and crops to accommodate the products of new gene-editing techniques, often called “new plant breeding techniques” or NBTs.

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said DG SANTE “has already prepared the ground for a new initiative on gene editing to overhaul the current GMO legislation”. The “initiative” will be taken up by the new Commission after this year’s elections.

07.07.2020 |

Groups warn against release of genetically-engineered mosquitoes in Nigeria

Over 75 Civil Society Organizations from Nigeria, Africa and the world have condemned moves to open the way for the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Nigeria.

Their condemnation follows a recent call by the West African Integrated Vector Management Programme and the National Biosafety Management Agency for the fast track the introduction of genetically based vector control methods such as transgenic mosquitoes into Nigeria.

Reacting, the coalition in a statement warned against the introduction of the transgenic mosquitoes, genetically modified vectors or other unproven technologies into Nigeria as such releases would pose serious risks to humans, the nations’ biodiversity and its ecosystem balance.

07.07.2020 |

Genome Editing in Food and Farming: Risks and Unexpected Consequences

The report provides an overview of the new genetic engineering techniques of genome editing being explored in agriculture, and the range of risks and potential unexpected consequences that can arise from them.

The purpose of our report is to support public discussions about the possible implications of using genetic engineering in food and farming. How should new genetic engineering technologies be used, and how should decisions about them be made?

02.07.2020 |

No patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees!

Huge success for animal welfare coalition and environmental organisations

Thursday, 2 July 2020

The European Patent Office (EPO) has for ethical reasons now declared two patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees to be no longer valid. All claims on genetically engineered animals have to be removed from the patents concerned. The Technical Board of Appeal at the EPO decided in favour of oppositions and appeals filed by a broad coalition of animal welfare and environmental organisations. European patent law prohibits patents on the genetic engineering of animals if it is likely to cause animal suffering. Exceptions are only made if there is real evidence of substantial medical benefit. According to the EPO, no such benefit was shown. It is the first time that the EPO has interpreted this rule so strictly. The decision is also binding for other cases.

02.07.2020 |

Petition | STOP GENE DRIVES

Petition for a ban on the release of gene drive organisms

Gene drive organisms are perhaps one of the most dangerous environmental applications of genetic engineering ever developed: Enabled by new genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9, the genetic make-up of living organisms can be fundamentally altered and the natural rules of heredity can be overridden. In this way, wild species can be genetically modified, replaced or even eradicated. Once released into nature, gene drive organisms would be irretrievable. Any field trial would potentially be highly risky. In the worst case scenario the release of gene drive organisms into nature could accelerate the extinction of species and lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems. We call on the German Federal Government, to use its EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2020, to bring about a Europe-wide ban on the release of gene drive organisms and to make good use of its role as the chief negotiator for the EU at the next Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2020 to prevent the first releases of gene drive organisms into nature.

Sign the petition!

02.07.2020 |

Genome editing: Scientifically indefensible, anti-democratic, and harmful to trade

The amendment to the Agriculture Bill seeking to de-regulate gene-edited foods and crops should be discarded

An amendment has been tabled[1] in the UK House of Lords to the Agriculture Bill, seeking to change the definition of a genetically modified organism (GMO) in the UK’s Environmental Protection Act (1990) in order to exempt certain types of new genetic modification techniques, such as gene editing, from GMO regulations, within the context of “Agriculture Research”. This would mean that certain types of genetically modified organisms, including gene-edited ones, would escape safety checks and labelling. The Agriculture Bill will go to the committee stage in the House of Lords on 7 July.

02.07.2020 |

UK: Ask Ministers to reject plans to deregulate genome editing

What’s happening

A new Agriculture Bill is making its way through Parliament. An amendment has been tabled that would give the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (currently George Eustice) the power to change the definition of a GMO and re-classify many forms of genome editing as non-GM. That would mean that those techniques were no longer regulated (meaning no safety checks or GM labelling) and could be used on our farms or in our food without our knowledge or consent.

GM Freeze is working in partnership with Beyond GM and GMWatch to oppose this amendment and other attempts to deregulate the use of genome editing in our food or on our farms.

30.06.2020 |

Open letter: we need a global moratorium on the release of gene drive organisms

Together with over 80 organisations, we wrote to the EU Commission to ask them to support a global moratorium on the release of Gene Drive Organisms.

Gene Drive technology aims to eradicate entire populations of species via genetic engineering, and its effects are currently not reversible. The environmental threat of its release poses serious and novel threats to nature.

The letter calls on EU Environment and Health Commissioners Sinkevičius and Kyriakides to follow the European Parliament's call for a global moratorium ahead of the upcoming COP 15 UN biodiversity talks.

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