22.04.2021 |

First application for approval of CRISPR/Cas plants in the EU

DowDupont (Corteva) maize is tolerant to herbicides and produces insecticides

The first application for approval of CRISPR/Cas plants is now in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) register. Maize DP915635 is tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate and produces an insecticidal toxin found in specific ferns growing on trees. DowDupont is marketing its genetically engineered plants under the company name Corteva, and also has filed several patent applications for the plants, some of which have already been granted in Europe.

The maize was generated with a combination of old and new genetic engineering methods (GE). To deliver the CRISPR/Cas "gene scissors" into the plant cells, they are first bombarded with small particles with a gene gun (an "old GE" method). In consequence, the cells produced the enzyme for the gene scissors which then inserted a DNA sequence into the maize genome. This additional DNA sequence is meant to facilitate the insertion of other genes and therefore is called a "landing pad". In a next step, again involving "old GE", a further gene construct is inserted into the "landing pad" in the maize genome, conferring tolerance to the herbicide and producing the fern toxin.

20.04.2021 |


As the European Parliament is preparing its reaction (own-initiative report) to the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, civil society organisations in the areas of environment, consumers, food systems, animal welfare, health, consumer co-operatives, farming, fisheries, development, social justice, climate, and forestry have come together to set out 10 key priorities which they call on MEPs to endorse in their report.


Priority 7

Promote precaution and farmers’ rights before technological innovation

Related paragraphs in the draft EP own initiative report: Recital E, §3, §7, §8, §15, §25

The INI Report must adopt a precaution-first approach to innovation and focus on holistic solutions, such as agroecology, rather than on “techno-fixes” that ignore the systemic problems of our food system.

The report must call for new GMOs (or “Innovative Plant Breeding”, “New Genomic Techniques” or “New Breeding Techniques”) to remain regulated under the EU GMO regulations as decided by the European Court of Justice in 2018. The regulations ensure pre-market safety assessment and approval, traceability, and labelling which allow freedom of choice to both farmers and citizens.

13.04.2021 |

What Members of European Parliament should consider when discussing New GE

Testbiotech warns about biotech industry influence

13 April 2021 / The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) at the European Parliament is organising a hearing on New Genetic Engineering (New GE or genome editing) and techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas, on 15 April 2021. A recent European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) opinion will be presented at the hearing. STOA is a service to provide impartial information to the European Parliament, but the current hearing has attracted some criticism.

STOA carried out a stakeholder consultation ahead of the consultation. There is however no sign that it will publish any of the submitted comments. Testbiotech has therefore decided to publicize its input to the consultation in the interests of transparency in a backgrounder. It clearly shows that current GMO regulation is sufficient in regard to genome edited plants.

13.04.2021 |

Public Oral Argument in Lawsuit Challenging FDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Ingredient That Makes Impossible Burger 'Bleed'

SEATTLE—Tomorrow, on Wednesday, April 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments in Center for Food Safety's (CFS) ongoing lawsuit challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of soy leghemoglobin (a.k.a. "heme"), the novel genetically engineered (GE) color additive that makes Impossible Foods' eponymous plant-based burger, the Impossible Burger, appear to "bleed" like real meat. CFS originally filed the lawsuit in March 2020, challenging FDA's safety review of the genetically engineered color additive.

11.04.2021 |

The Gmo Revival

A lobbying wave is hitting Europe to deregulate NBTs. The Crispr files detail the Agribusiness strategy backed, once again, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Italy was the first country on the list to deregulate, although civil society organizations were able to stop the government’s first attempt. But the fight is just beginning with the future of Europe’s agriculture at stake.

07.04.2021 |

Report: majority of consumers want compulsory labelling on all genetically modified food

A majority of European consumers want to see compulsory labelling on food products containing genetically modified crops, according to a recent Ipsos report, but industry players insist that this is impossible to implement.

The report, commissioned by the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and carried out by the polling organisation Ipsos, surveyed thousands of consumers across all 27 member states between February and March of this year in an attempt to gauge their understanding and attitudes towards genetically modified (GM) crops.

06.04.2021 |

Gene editing myths and reality – a guide through the smokescreen

An unprecedented drive is under way to promote new genetic modification techniques that are collectively termed gene editing – most notably CRISPR/Cas. The agricultural biotech industry claims that these techniques can provide solutions to our food and farming problems, including the challenges posed by climate change, pests, and diseases.

This report, published by the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament and authored by GMWatch editor Claire Robinson with technical input by molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou, looks at the claims and shows them to be at best misleading and at worst deceptive. It shows that gene editing is a costly and potentially dangerous distraction from the real solutions to the challenges faced by our food and farming sectors.

02.04.2021 |

EU Watchdog Radio: Episode 20 Biotech lobby versus Green Deal

In this new episode of EU Watchdog Radio we dive into the covert lobby tactics used by the biotechnology industry to get a new generation of GMO’s to be used in agriculture, deregulated in the EU. Why are agrochemical companies like Bayer and Corteva to against having European safety rules? And why is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation financing this lobby-campaign?

A few decades ago some agrochemical companies started selling patented seeds created with genetic modification, for growing plants called GMO’s. They are now trying to promote a next generation of GMO’s using new genetic editing techniques like Crispr/Cas. But the companies do not want these to be called new GMO’s because in Europe those have a bad reputation and track record. The first generation GMOs did not live up to the expectations that were created back then.

02.04.2021 |

Pesticide toxicity to invertebrates and pollinators increasing in GM crops

Some just published research in the journal Science completely demolishes claims that the impact of pesticides is declining and that GM crops are contributing to this positive trend.

In fact, the new study shows that not only is the toxic impact of pesticides increasing in the US but that GM crops are no better than conventional non-GM crops in that regard. As The Guardian notes in its report on the study by German researchers, using US government data, it "shows that the toxic impact of pesticides used on genetically modified crops remains the same as conventional crops, despite claims that GM crops would reduce the need for pesticides".

01.04.2021 |

Toxic impact of pesticides on bees has doubled, study shows

Analysis contradicts claims that the environmental impact of pesticides is falling, say scientists

“Compounds that are particularly toxic to vertebrates have been replaced by compounds with less vertebrate toxicity and that is indeed a success,” said Prof Ralf Schulz, of the University Koblenz and Landau in Germany, who led the research. “But at the same time, pesticides became more specific, and therefore, unfortunately, also more toxic to ‘non-target organisms’, like pollinators and aquatic invertebrates.”

Schulz said: “GM crops were introduced using the argument that they would reduce the dependency of agriculture on chemical pesticides. This is obviously not true if you look at toxicity levels.”