Save Our Seeds Flyer

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Welcome to "Save Our Seeds"

‘Save Our Seeds’ (SOS) started as a European initiative in favor of the purity of seeds against genetically modified organisms (GMO) . The initiative was created in 2002 by the Foundation of Future Farming and since then advocates for a zero tolerance for contamination of seeds. Due to new developments in genetic engineering linked to the advent of CRISPR/Cas9, Save Our Seeds enlarged its focus and now also advocates for a GMO free nature.

Hundreds of organizations and some thousand citizens of the EU have become affiliated with Save Our Seeds’ many activities. Its projects strive to keep nature and agriculture free from genetic engineering and promote organic agriculture, biodiversity and food sovereignty.

SOS organizes the yearly GMO Free Regions conference, co-ordinates the European Stop Gene Drive Campaign,  the Bantam Mais action and is co-publisher of the Informationsdienst Gentechnik (GE Info Service). SOS was involved in the creation of the Weltagrarbericht (World Agriculture Report) and has shared its findings all over Germany. Together with many other organizations, SOS is responsible for the campaign “Meine Landwirtschaft – Unsere Wahl” (My Agriculture, Our Choice), engaged with the realignment of European agricultural policy after 2013.

With its campaigns and initiatives, SOS networks with different organizations, companies, politicians, scientists, farmers, and interested citizens; and wishes to lead a productive debate towards sustainable change.  

Deregulation of EU's GMO legislation?

The move had been expected: On 24 September, the European Commission officially proposed to fundamentally change the EU's genetic engineering law: Certain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are to be exempted from the current risk assessment and labelling requirements. To this end, they are given new names such as "new genomic techniques", "targeted mutagenesis" and "cisgenesis" and would no longer require genetic engineering approval. Three years ago, the European Court of Justice clearly classified these products of new genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR/Cas as GMOs. As a result, the EU Commission now proposes to change the law under which the court ruled. The exceptions now proposed are only the beginning. This is a good reason to lodge your first objection to this plan by 22 October. Please get involved!

"There are good reasons to think about a review of the authorisation procedures and risk assessments of GMOs thirty years after their adoption," commented Benny Haerlin of Save Our Seeds, "however, the proposal we now have before us is neither scientifically valid nor open to improvement. It seems to be aimed solely at lowering safety standards and undermining the foundations of the safety philosophy of the GMO Directive. Instead of prudent adaptation to technical developments, this is apparently only about adapting to the interests of the genetic engineering industry." He sees indications of this in the Commission's biased interpretation of statements by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and in a scientifically incomprehensible casuistry according to which the intended effects of certain genetic manipulations substantially reduce their "risk profile" compared to other manipulations. Put simply, the point is that mutations of individual base pairs in the DNA of organisms occur constantly in nature. However, deliberately inducing these mutations with the help of a specially created search and cutting system (CRISPR/Cas) implanted into the cell using classical genetic engineering methods, and repeating this process as often as needed to "rewrite" the DNA according to one's own blueprint, is quite obviously no longer a natural process. Rather, the process has enormous potential for rapid and far-reaching genetic changes with significant effects. Scientists, biotechnologists and genetic engineering companies are keen to stress this as an innovation potential. It is obvious that this also entails new risks. This applies to intended effects such as the production of new proteins and ingredients, toxic effects on "enemies" or the adaptation to new ecological conditions (e.g. heat, flood or drought), which creates competitive advantages. However, it also applies to a wide range of unintended effects. These start with the targeted mutations also taking place in other parts of the genome, where they can cause unnoticed changes or are not quite so controllable but can be transferred to other organisms. And it ends with the fact that the introduction of certain characteristics into an ecosystem can have entirely unforeseen consequences on the complex interactions between plants, microorganisms and animals. There are scientifically well-documented examples of all these effects, making a case-by-case, step-by-step risk analysis advisable. On the other hand, there is no scientific prove that certain risks only exist when DNA is transferred from a foreign organism or are only starting with a definable length of the modified DNA section. A particular proposal by the EU Commission sounds very sensible at first glance: in future assessments, not only the risks but also the opportunities for sustainability and the environment should be evaluated. On closer inspection, however, it turns out that this is only to be related to certain technologies, but not to possible alternatives, and that it is essentially to suffice to cite possible environmental benefits, without their feasibility, the context and a system enabling comparability. Unrealised promises, such as the reduction of pesticides (the opposite was demonstrably the effect) or cultivation under more difficult conditions, have been paving the way for genetic engineering in agriculture for more than three decades, and practically none of them have been fulfilled so far. It would devaluate assessing positive and negative socio-economic and ecological effects beyond the classical risk assessment from the outset if it is only to be developed and used to accelerate the introduction of individual technologies. The Commission's proposal can be seen as a kick-off for the hot phase of a new debate on the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, the environment and food, which has been prepared by agrochemical corporations and technology interest groups for years. It will possibly last for years.

Majority of European citizens rejects genetic engineering of wild species

Should humanity release genetically engineered gene drive organisms into nature?
An alliance of European NGOs commissioned a representative opinion poll to determine how the European population evaluates gene drive technologyand how well known the issue is.The response of a majority of citizens in eight European countries is: “No, the risks are too high”. This first opinion poll on the subject shows high levels of opposition to (46% - 70%) and very low levels of support for (7% - 16%) the use of gene drive technology in the environment. 

The survey of nearly 9,000 people is representative of 280 million EU citizens from eight EU countries. It was commissioned by nine NGOs demanding an informed and inclusive public debate and a global moratorium on the environmental release of this new type of genetically modified organisms. The survey also reveals that a large proportion of respondents were still undecided (14% - 27%) or did not know how to answer (1% - 24%). For more information on gene drives and all other results of the survey, please see the links below.

The Press release of the gene drive survey at EU level 

To the full survey with all results here

14.01.2022 |

New findings on the evolution of plants

Research outcomes also concern the differences between New GE and conventional breeding

14 January 2022 / A new scientific publication in Nature shows that the occurrence of mutations in plant genomes is not purely random, and their frequencies in populations do not only depend on the mechanisms of selection. However, it is now becoming evident that there are natural mechanisms in the genome which prevent specific genomic regions from frequent mutations. The published research sheds new light on evolutionary biology and, at the same time, raises questions in regard to the consequences of genetic engineering in plants.

25.12.2021 |

Rapid commercialization of genome-edited food in Japan

CBIC From Bio Journal - January 2022

Rapid commercialization of genome-edited food in Japan

In 2021, amid the continuing impacts of the novel coronavirus, genome-edited foods were increasingly marketed in Japan. First, high-GABA tomatoes led the way. Sanatech Seed, a venture company founded by developer Professor Hiroshi Ezura of the University of Tsukuba, began distributing seedlings free of charge to the public in May. At the same time, the tomatoes were grown on partner farms, and Pioneer Ecoscience, the parent company of Sanatech Seed, began selling them on September 15. Pioneer Ecoscience also started selling seedlings to the public on October 11 and tomato puree late in the year.

15.12.2021 |

Call for a ministerial conference to stop patents on seeds!

Agricultural companies continue to hold patents on conventionally-bred fruits, vegetables and cereals, such as barley, even though this is not allowed under European patent law. Similar patents have also been filed on animals. Conventionally-bred plants and animals are not an invention! Implement existing prohibitions now to stop the big agricultural companies from taking control of our food!

14.12.2021 |

Opposition against BASF patent on watermelons

Bushy plant growth is not an invention

14 December 2021 / No Patents on Seeds! is filing an opposition against a Nunhems (BASF) patent on watermelons (EP2814316) derived from conventional breeding. The bushy plants were originally discovered in a garden. The genetic predisposition to bushy growth occurred randomly. Nunhems has, in this case, simply used well-known methods to breed melons with less seeds from these plants. However, the main advantage of the plants is that they need less space to grow. However, these characteristics were detected but not invented. The patent covers the plants, the seeds and the fruits.

03.12.2021 |

New GMO labeling law falls far short in providing transparency to consumers

Average shoppers likely to be bewildered at complexity of new GMO labeling law

On January 1, 2022, the federal Bioengineered (BE) Food labeling law will take full effect. Under the BE labeling law, certain food products that are made with GMOs will require a disclosure of bioengineered ingredients.

The BE labeling law, known formally as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard or NBFDS, was introduced in 2016 as a federal response to state-level GMO labeling campaigns. However, this law is not nearly as comprehensive as either the state laws it is meant to replace nor the Non-GMO Project Standard. With a comparatively limited scope, categorical exemptions and inconsistent labeling requirements, the BE labeling law is insufficient to protect a consumer’s right to know what’s in their food.

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