GMO news related to Belgium

17.09.2020 |

Open letter: Commission turning blind eye to new GMOs

88 civil society and farmers organisations from across Europe are today warning the EU Commission is turning a blind eye to new GMOs and demanding EU health and food safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides keeps new GMOs regulated, in an open letter.

The controversial new generation of food genetic engineering techniques should be subject to EU safety checks and consumer labelling, according to an EU Court of Justice ruling, but the organisations complain the European Commission is not implementing this ruling.

15.09.2020 |

Gene edited crop can’t stand the light of day

On 7 September, Greenpeace and others announced an open source detection test for the first gene-edited crop on the market, SU Canola, developed by US company Cibus. The test was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Foods.

SU Canola is a rapeseed engineered with oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM), a gene editing technique, to withstand spraying with certain herbicides. Products of gene editing fall within the scope of EU GMO law, according to a European Court of Justice ruling of 2018.

09.09.2020 |

Radical transformation of our agricultural system needed, not GMOs

A GREENS/EFA PERSPECTIVE ON GENOME EDITING IN AGRICULTURE

Biodiversity and ecosystems are under extreme threat, with around one million species facing extinction. To avert the worst consequences of runaway climate change, urgent action needs to be taken now.

In order to respond to these unprecedented and closely interlinked crises, our food and agricultural systems need to be rapidly transformed. High input, industrial farming based on monocultures and factory farming must be replaced by high biodiversity, locally adapted food production systems, ones which produce healthy food while respecting animal welfare and the environment.

07.09.2020 |

First open source detection test for a gene-edited GM crop

Brussels – Greenpeace, together with other non-governmental organisations, non-GMO food associations and a food retailer, announced that the first-ever public detection method for a gene-edited crop has been successfully developed and published. The new research refutes claims by the biotech industry and some regulators that new genetically modified (GM) crops engineered with gene editing are indistinguishable from similar, non-GM crops and therefore cannot be regulated.

The new method detects a herbicide-tolerant rapeseed variety that was developed using gene editing, a new form of genetic engineering. It allows European Union (EU) countries to carry out checks to prevent this unauthorised GM crop from entering EU food and feed supply chains illegally.

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.

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.

07.05.2020 |

The EU not ready for the release of Gene drive organisms into the environment

Summary:

Gene drive organisms (GDOs) have been suggested as an approach to solve some of the most pressing environmental and public health issues. Currently, it remains unclear what kind of regulations are to be used to cover the potential risks. Scientists have evaluated the options for an operational risk assessment of GDOs before their release into environments across the EU.

30.04.2020 |

EFSA discusses risk assessment of gene drives

Testbiotech demands that ‘cut-off’ criteria are applied

30 April 2020 / The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) carried out a public consultation on guidance for the risk assessment of so-called gene drives at the request of the EU Commission. At the same time, a new Testbiotech scientific paper was accepted after peer review. The paper shows that the EFSA concept is insufficient. To control the risks of gene drives, ‘cut-off criteria’ need to be defined to prevent the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms.

Gene drives are genetic elements which can spread much more widely than would normally be expected. In recent years, artificial gene constructs have been developed using the gene scissor CRISPR/Cas. Organisms, inheriting such gene constructs, are meant to be released and intended to spread rapidly, especially throughout wild populations. The goal is to replace or eradicate the targeted species. However, once started, the spread can no longer be effectively controlled. Damage to human health and the environment can be extensive.

Against this backdrop, EFSA is currently working on guidance for the risk assessment of mosquitoes which inherit genetically engineered gene drives. There are already proposals to use these mosquitoes to fight malaria in Africa: the plan is to eradicate those species which can transmit malaria via a mutagenic chain reaction, or replace them with mosquitoes that can no longer be a vector of the disease.

26.03.2020 |

No place for gene editing in Commission's sustainability strategy

The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to make farming healthier and more environmentally friendly – but it might also prove to be a back-door entry point for gene-edited products

The European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) is a key component of the European Green Deal, a "new growth strategy" that "gives back more than it takes away".

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"New genomic techniques" are, of course, new GM techniques. It is baffling that the Commission planned to assess their status under EU law because the European Court of Justice – the highest legal authority in the EU – ruled in 2018 that these new techniques fall under the EU's GMO regulations. That means that products of the new techniques must go through safety checks and carry a GMO label. Did the Commission really think it understood the law better than the Court? Or was it just desperate to find a way to rescue "new GM" from the scrutiny of safety assessments and labelling?

As for the Commission's potential "proposal", this is almost certainly an attempt to change the GMO regulations to allow gene-edited (and possibly all GM) products easier access to market.

16.03.2020 |

Is Hogan about to let Trump's GM exports into EU?

Five years after the public outcry against lowering EU standards via the TransAtlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTP) culminated in a petition signed by more than three million EU citizens, the new EU Commission is giving it another try.

By 18 March, trade commissioner Phil Hogan wants to sign a deal with the Trump administration which, to add a bit of spice, includes fast-tracking GMO imports in an attempt to please the US farming industry.

At the same time, the commission is downplaying work by independent scientists highlighting major gaps in current risk assessment procedures for genetically engineered (GE) plants.

Will the Green Deal take account of the environmental and health risks of GE organisms?

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