News

03.03.2022 |

World Wildlife Day - Dreams & nightmares of genetically engineering wildlife

Why conservation organisations across the world need to speak up!

Most people in the EU – including civil society organisations – are opposed to genetically manipulating food crops but unaware that the scope of genetic engineering projects has shifted radically in the past decade. With the advent of CRISPR/Cas genetic engineering has been brought to a new level while the previously used ‘gene guns’ that enabled for example Monsantos pesticide resistant corn have become quite outdated. With CRISPR many more species – and not only domesticated ones – can be genetically modified in much more targeted and profound way.

Genetic engineering in conservation?

28.02.2022 |

Greenpeace rebukes Macron over "new GMOs"

Greenpeace challenged President Emmanuel Macron, on Sunday, the day after his visit to the Salon de l’Agriculture, on his positions in favor of new genomic editing techniques for plants which, according to the association, produce “new GMOs”.

A handful of activists first climbed the arch which marks the entrance to the Parc des Expositions at the Porte de Versailles to deploy a banner “For sustainable agriculture, no to new GMOs”, before activating smoke bombs from green color, noted an AFP journalist.

25.02.2022 |

Japan Resources – 184 | Public Hearing on Genome-Edited Foods in Japan

Contents:

From the Editors: Legal Issues

Group Lawsuit Filed Against TEPCO by Young People with Thyroid Cancer

Public Hearing on Genome-Edited Foods in Japan

Status of Genome-Edited Fish and Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ) Activities

Opinion on the Japanese Government’s Draft Guidelines on Non-use Labeling of Food Additives

23.02.2022 |

World’s First Ecosystem Contamination From GM Fish Adds to Canadian Concern

For years, environmental groups in numerous countries have warned about the potential escape of genetically engineered animals into the wild. Now it has happened. Researchers in Brazil have published a paper documenting the escape and successful reproduction of genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) aquarium fish in the wild. The fish, which contains a gene from the jellyfish family to make them fluorescent, has unknown consequences for freshwater systems in Brazil. This is the first documented case of a genetically engineered animal breeding in the wild.

Canada was one of the first countries to approve the sale of Glofish (trademark name) and likewise, a genetically engineered salmon now being grown in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. In 2021, the conservation group Nature Canada warned the Canadian Government about Glofish escaping.

22.02.2022 |

CRISPR/Cas patents: ethical boundaries strengthened

Controversial claims amended or deleted

22 February 2022 / Following an opposition filed by Testbiotech, the European Patent Office (EPO) has amended a patent on CRISPR/Cas (EP 3401400) gene scissors. The Nobel Prize laureates, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, are named among the inventors in the patent. The claims covering human, animal and plant cells were deleted, and intervention in the human germline explicitly excluded.

Testbiotech filed the opposition because the patent did not exclud human germline interventions or the commercial usage of human embryos, and therefore failed to fulfil legal requirements. A further reason for filing the opposition were patent claims on genetic changes in animals that would have been likely to cause suffering. According to Testbiotech, this final point still needs further clarification after the decision.

21.02.2022 |

Australia's revolving door: Former GMO regulator gets job with GMO industry lobby group

Former gene tech regulator Dr Joe Smith is now chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA)

Australia's revolving door allows government ex-regulators, officials and MPs to serve the industries they once vetted as public servants. Dr Joe Smith has been appointed chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia (ABCA), which CropLife, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) and AusBiotech founded a decade ago to promote the agricultural biotech and chemical industries.

ABCA describes its new chair, Joe Smith, as "former national Gene Technology Regulator, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and Director of the Therapeutic Goods Administration Laboratories".

16.02.2022 |

Lords Committee issue strong criticism on lack of guidance in proposed regulatory change on use of Genetically Modified plants

Producing food safely matters, it matters for the environment, welfare, farmers, consumers and the hospitality and catering industry. So it is good news that the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has published a report after considering the draft Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2022.

The instrument, laid by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), proposes to remove the legal requirement for obtaining the Secretary of State’s consent, completing a risk assessment and conducting a public consultation before releasing plants with genetic modifications, which could have occurred naturally or been produced by traditional breeding, into the environment for non-marketing purposes.

16.02.2022 |

MEPs demand EU funding for research into gene editing surveillance

A cross-party coalition of MEPs co-signed a letter to the European Commission demanding EU-funded research into the potential risks and analytical detection of genetically engineered organisms, stressing this is needed to create informed policies on the matter.

The letter sent 8 February, emphasises that the EU executive cannot just invest in EU research to advance genetically modified (GM) technology and its applications, but should also “urgently invest in EU research to deepen our knowledge of potential risks, and to enable the detection and traceability of GM products across the food chain”.

15.02.2022 |

Regulation by Stealth bringing GMOs to English Farms

How we produce food matters. It matters for the environment, for welfare and for safety. It matters to the farmer, to the consumer and to the chef.

Our farmers are currently locked into a system of high inputs, profligate energy use and waste and environmental destruction. Nothing short of radical change will break this lock-in and yet there appears to be no change in sight. In fact, in England, we are about to create a new lock-in that could be even harder to break.

15.02.2022 |

Transgenic ornamental fish out of control in Brazil

Scientists worry about ecological balance

15 February 2022 / A recent study from Brazil shows that genetically engineered fluorescent ornamental fish (zebrafish, Dania rerio) have escaped from breeding facilities in large numbers and spread into regional river systems. The transgenic fish are sold in various countries as ornamental fish for aquariums under the trade name GloFish. The paper was published in the Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment journal, and was picked up in the current issue of Science, among others.

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