News

03.03.2021 |

Australia: New South Wales ag minister sacrifices GMO discretion

By relinquishing the state's reserve powers to say 'no' to a GM crop on marketing grounds, minister delivers control to central government

In Australia the New South Wales (NSW) state agriculture minister Adam Marshall claims he will lift the moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in July.

There has been a slew of bogus headlines about the move, with claims that it will deliver "multi-billion-dollar" rewards to the agriculture industry.

However, as Bob Phelps, executive director of GeneEthics, pointed out in a press release, there is no GMO ban in NSW. Roundup Ready GM cotton has been grown there since 2000 and Roundup Ready GM canola since 2010.

02.03.2021 |

NSW organic farmers call for more protection as state lifts ban on GM crops

Representatives say regulators need to ensure there is no contamination from windblown seeds and pollen from genetically modified produce

Organic farming representatives say a decision by the New South Wales government to lift a ban on genetically modified crops will hurt its thriving industry.

NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall announced Tuesday the state’s 18-year moratorium on GM crops would be lifted on 1 July.

The state’s farming lobby group, NSW Farmers, said it welcomed the move because the technology could be used to improve drought and frost tolerance, but cautioned that organic growers would need to be protected.

The NSW announcement means Tasmania will be the only state with a moratorium on growing GM crops.

24.02.2021 |

New GM technology has no place in sustainable farming

Our MEPs Benoît Biteau and Martin Häusling argue that new GM technology won’t solve the problems of industrial agriculture and will undermine nature, climate protection and the European Green Deal.

GM developers are promoting ‘gene editing’ as a way to save nature and the climate

In recent years, a range of genetic modification (GM) techniques have emerged that are referred to as ‘gene editing’. One of them is the much-hyped CRISPR/Cas ‘gene scissors’, whose inventors have been awarded the Nobel Prize. The GM seed industry is claiming that we cannot miss out on this technology – which they call “plant breeding innovation” – if we want to make farming more sustainable, and reduce pesticide use in particular.

There’s no doubt that farming must become more sustainable. There’s no doubt also that there is an urgent need to reduce artificial inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers. But telling us that GM is a way to get there? Seriously?

23.02.2021 |

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 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.

19.02.2021 |

Co-op becomes first British supermarket to reject GM crops and animals without strict assessments

- The company has thrown its weight behind the #NotInMySupermarket campaign

- The food campaign is coordinated by the groups Beyond GM and SlowFood UK

- According to surveys, majority of UK shoppers oppose genetically modified food

The Co-op has become the first UK supermarket to reject genetically edited food crops and animals without strict assessment and labels.

The move comes amid a Government review on the controversial items, dubbed ‘Frankenstein foods’.

Ministers are consulting on removing some controls, which might include dropping mandatory labelling on foods which contain genetically edited ingredients.

19.02.2021 |

Successful opposition to a patent on genetically engineered ‘Parkinson-apes’

Max Planck Society withdraws all claims covering vertebrates

19 February 2021 / Testbiotech has won an important opposition filed at the European Patent Office (EPO). A patent held by the Max Planck Society will now be changed to delete all claims covering genetically engineered vertebrates. In its original form the patent covered many different species from mice to great apes. The animals were to be genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Parkinson disease and for use in experiments. The new EPO decision was based on ethical considerations; the expected suffering of the animals would have been disproportionate to any substantial medical benefit as requested in European law.

18.02.2021 |

EFSA: Risk assessment of New GE plants necessary even if no additional genes are inserted

European Food Safety Authority presents new report

18 February 2021 / The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published another report on the risk assessment of plants developed with new genetic engineering (New GE). The report includes plants generated using gene scissor CRISPR/Cas applications where no new additional genes are inserted (so-called SDN-1 applications). The EFSA report shows that detailed risk assessment must be carried out even if no additional genes are inserted. The report is the outcome of a consultation which included Testbiotech.

The example chosen by EFSA is wheat, derived from application of CRISPR/Cas, with a strongly reduced gluten content. This protein is thought to trigger inflammatory responses. Using CRISPR/Cas meant that several dozen genes and gene copies in the wheat genome were changed at the same time. EFSA rightly concludes that these complex patterns of genetic change go beyond what has been achieved in genetic engineering and conventional breeding thus far. EFSA explained that if an application for market approval was filed, then risk assessment should take issues such as molecular changes, gene expression and the potential impact on health and the environment into account.

16.02.2021 |

Modified genes can distort wild cotton’s interactions with insects

In Mexico, acquired herbicide resistance and insecticide genes can disrupt cotton’s ecosystem

Cotton plants native to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula may all look the same — unkempt and untamed bushes with flowers that shift from pale yellow to violet as pollinators visit them. But genes that have escaped from genetically modified cotton crops have made some of these native plants fundamentally different, changing their biology and the way they interact with insects.

One type of escaped gene makes wild cotton exude less nectar. With no means to attract defensive ants that protect it from plant eaters, the cotton is devoured. Another escaped gene makes the wild cotton produce excess nectar, enticing a lot of ants that might keep other insects, including pollinators, at bay, researchers report on January 21 in Scientific Reports.

“These are profoundly interesting effects,” says Norman Ellstrand, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Riverside. “It’s the first case that really suggests that a whole ecosystem can be disrupted” after transgenes enter a wild population.

15.02.2021 |

Gene Editing Consultation

The UK Government has launched a Consultation on the Regulation of Genetic Technologies. They are proposing that plants and animals created using new experimental genetic engineering technologies (commonly referred to as gene-edited or genome edited) should be deregulated. This would remove essential protections for people, animals and the environment as well as our right to choose what we are buying and eating.

Please respond to this important consultation by Wednesday 17 March 2021.

11.02.2021 |

America’s biggest retailers and foodservice companies have already agreed not to sell GMO salmon

AquaBounty says its first bioengineered salmon will be harvested in March, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to buy.

For decades, Americans have been teased with the impending arrival of genetically engineered salmon. If a boycott campaign continues apace, they may have to wait even longer.

Earlier this month, a coalition of environmentalists and grassroots organizers announced they had successfully pressured Aramark, one of the country’s largest foodservice companies, into agreeing not to sell the salmon, should it become available in the United States.

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