29.10.2021 |

Gene Editing – Blurring the Lines Between Nature and Technology

This session explores whether we are changing the definition of nature to accommodate a technological innovation agenda, the potential impacts of viewing food as software, the regulatory challenges of blurring the lines between natural and technological/artificial, and offers a legal perspective on patents and genome editing claims of ‘close to nature’.

28.10.2021 |

New non-GMO blight-resistant potato has global importance

Leading ag journalist hails plant breeding breakthrough, saying it "flies in the face" of Monsanto. Report: Jonathan Matthews and Claire Robinson

When Boris Johnson used his very first speech as prime minister to promote GM crops and support their deregulation, he did so by proclaiming, "Let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world."

His focus on blight was no accident. Overcoming this devastating crop disease is regarded as something of an agricultural holy grail, particularly among tomato and potato growers. The international potato sector loses billions of euros’ worth of crops every year to late blight.

26.10.2021 |

New scientific publication on novel risks and applications of gene scissors

Need for a case-specific risk assessment of plants obtained from new genetic engineering

26 October 2021 / A new study published in the scientific journal, Plants, presents the specific risks of new genetic engineering techniques and gives an overview of possible gene scissor applications. Inducing supposedly small alterations in the genome of crop plants can nevertheless generate complex changes. The results of the study highlight the need for plants developed using New Genetic Engineering techniques to undergo case-specific risk assessment, taking both the properties of the end product and risks posed by the applied procedures into account.

26.10.2021 |

Deregulating gene editing – opening a door to what, exactly?

Earlier this year the UK’s Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a public consultation on its plans to deregulate agricultural crops and other organisms produced using a genetic engineering process called gene editing.

The 10-week consultation provoked thousands of responses from the public, as well as from academia, science, business and the public sector – and 86% of all responses indicated that gene editing should continue to be regulated as a GMO. In spite of this the UK government has announced its intention to remove key regulations from gene edited crops.

25.10.2021 |

Tell the Minister: Health Canada needs to assess the safety of ALL GMOs

Write an instant letter to Canada's Minister of Health today to stop proposals that would remove government safety assessments and oversight of new genetically engineered foods and seeds. Send your letter now from

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are proposing to exempt many new genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) foods and seeds from regulation. If approved, the proposals would remove government oversight of many new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are produced through the new genetic engineering techniques of genome editing (also called gene editing) and have no foreign DNA.

For information and action:

23.10.2021 |

German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation - position paper on new genomic techniques and their regulation

High risk potential requires case-by-case analysis

23 October 2021 / The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) has outlined its position in a paper published in October on the intention of the EU Commission to evaluate new legislative proposals for the regulation of certain new genomic techniques (NGTs) in plants. The paper concludes that these plants have a similar or even greater risk potential than plants obtained from older genetic engineering techniques. According to the BfN, a high level of safety can only be ensured with a case-by-case analysis as required in current genetic engineering legislation, especially since there is no or only very limited experience with the deliberate release of these plants and their products.

19.10.2021 |

The Death of Neoliberal Corn in Mexico

Basically saying “¡No más!” to foreign seed companies, on October 13, Mexico’s Supreme Court authorized a court order banning genetically modified corn seeds. The court reasoned that such orders are precautionary measures needed to protect biodiversity from irreparable damage caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs). News of the ruling was met with widespread approval from the public, suggesting there is some hope for sustainable farming across in Mexico.

Gritos (cries) tell Mexico’s history far better than history books do. They illustrate how Mexicans challenge global forces. In the 1800s, imperial powers exploited new colonies worldwide for sugar. One local consequence was the widespread taking of ejidos (communal farmlands) in Morelos and other Mexican states. Tired of this, Emiliano Zapata, born and raised in Morelos, cried “¡Tierra y libertad!” demanding land and, more important, liberty for campesinos, something only enjoyed by the wealthy hacendados (plantation owners) and their foreign investors.

13.10.2021 |

EU-Commission takes first step to deregulate genetically engineered plants and food

Have your say
Have your say

In an “Inception Impact Assessment” published on the 24th September, the European Commission informs the public and interested parties about its intention to prepare new legislation that would waive the standard risk assessment and labelling requirements for genetically modified organisms on “plants obtained by targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis”. With these new terms the Commission describes results of the new genetic engineering technologies CRISPR/Cas and other “gene editing” techniques which effect either the single or multiple alteration of short DNA strands or the transfer of strands which already exist in an organisms DNA, but may not be activated or located in a different context. Cisgenesis describes genetic engineering that does not introduce new DNA from another organism (transgenesis) but alters and “rewrites” existing DNA.

The Commission invites the public to comment on its plan, goals and assumptions before October 22nd.

13.10.2021 |

Patents on ‘New Genetic Engineering’ are a threat to traditional breeding

Europe is currently faced with a situation in which hundreds of patents on seeds might be granted in the near future. The patents on ‘New Genetic Engineering’ (e.g. CRISPR/Cas) are also an increasing threat to breeders who want to avoid genetic engineering. No Patents on Seeds! is, therefore, holding a protest against these developments at the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich today, where they will hand over 38 empty beer bottles. Each empty bottle will contain a flag of one of the 38 contracting states of the EPO represented in the Administrative Council meeting.

08.10.2021 |

FDA stops all Allogene's CAR-T trials over safety scare, raising questions about future of gene editing

The FDA has sent shockwaves through the off-the-shelf CAR-T space, slapping a clinical hold on all of Allogene Therapeutics’ AlloCAR T clinical trials in response to an abnormality that could theoretically cause cancer.

At this stage, there are a lot of unknowns, and the range of possible outcomes run from a short delay to Allogene’s programs right up to a more intractable problem for the entire off-the-shelf cell therapy space. Analysts at Jefferies expect the clinical hold to be resolved, albeit after many months of work, but at this stage it is impossible to rule out other scenarios.