05.02.2020 |

New GMOs: Kyriakides gets off on wrong foot with biased consultation

The new EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides recently told EURACTIV.com that her “priority is to gather more information” on gene editing. To this end, she said, “we will be preparing a study on new genomic techniques, foreseen for spring 2021”. Clearly, the design and set-up of such a study will be crucial to its outcome, writes Nina Holland.

By Nina Holland, a researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory

On 10 February 2020, DG SANTE will hold a ‘targeted stakeholder consultation’ to discuss the set-up of this policy study on ‘new genomic techniques’.

However, only Brussels-based organisations have been invited and the list of invitees shows an enormous bias towards industry interests. Out of 94 organisations invited, more than 70% represent industrial food and farming interests, contrasting with fewer than 12% of NGOs.

Such a biased set-up raises concerns that the study is being designed to deliver a pre-determined conclusion.

23.01.2020 |

RAGES subreport: New genetic engineering technologies

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), predominantly plants, have been commercially grown in some countries, notably the Americas, since the mid-1990s. Current GMOs have been developed using ‘first generation’ genetic engineering technologies. More recently, new applications of GMOs and new modes of creating novel traits have been developed alongside new genetic engineering technologies. Grafting, cisgenesis and intragenesis, reverse breeding and RNA-directed DNA

methylation (RdDM) either utilise GMOs created using first generation techniques as an intermediary stage or can, in the case of agro-infiltration, unintentionally give rise to GMOs. Most, if not all, of the principal concerns regarding first generation GMOs apply to these new types of GMOs and new genetic engineering techniques. Some novel types of GMOs (e.g. RNA interference (RNAi)-based GM plants) present additional challenges for risk assessment, as do new genetic engineering techniques, such as genome editing.

19.01.2020 |

GM food: Keep EU rules or risk health, says gene expert

A war of words has broken out among some of Britain’s leading scientists over the safety of genetically modified crops and livestock.

It follows a warning by a genome researcher at King’s College London that Crispr, the “high-precision” gene-editing technology that is revolutionising DNA research, is less precise than has been claimed and could create mutant crops that produce toxic or carcinogenic proteins.

Michael Antoniou, head of King’s gene expression and therapy group, said that after Brexit ministers should retain the tough EU rules that have blocked most genetically modified crops and livestock from commercial use.

16.01.2020 |

NGO letter to all MEPs: Call to support amendments on gene drive organisms in EP motion for a resolution on COP 15 CBD

NGO letter
NGO letter

Motion for a resolution on the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (B9-0035/2020); Please support amendments 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

With this letter, we are asking you to support a call for a global moratorium on so-called Gene Drives as part of the European Parliament’s motion for a resolution on the 15th meeting of the

Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Biodiversity is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. An estimate of 1 million species is threatened with extinction. This is the grim conclusion of the landmark report from the

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Gene Drives – a new eradication technology

13.01.2020 |

EU Commission bans Bayer pesticide linked to harming bees

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission decided on Monday not to renew approval for a pesticide linked to harming bees, effectively banning Bayer’s insecticide known as thiacloprid.

The decision follows approval by a majority of EU governments in October last year, based on a proposal from the Commission, the bloc’s executive.

“There are environmental concerns related to the use of this pesticide, particularly its impact on groundwater, but also related to human health, in reproductive toxicity,” Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.

In principle, farmers will not be allowed to use the insecticide, sold under brands Calypso and Biscaya, after April 30 this year, when its current approval expires.

In practice, EU governments have until Aug. 3 this year to withdraw authorisations, with a possible grace period ending on Feb. 3, 2021.

08.01.2020 |

The Gene Drive Dilemma: We Can Alter Entire Species, but Should We?

FEATURE

A new genetic engineering technology could help eliminate malaria and stave off extinctions — if humanity decides to unleash it.

(.....)

What made the gene drive truly strange and remarkable, though, was that it didn’t stop with one set of offspring. Generation after generation, it would relentlessly copy and paste the gene it carried, until it was present in every descendant. “For most of the people in the room, you could tell it was the first they’d heard of this,” James recalled. “You could see their eyes getting big.”

21.12.2019 |

Here’s Why Many CRISPR/Cas9 Experiments Could Be Wrong – and How to Fix Them

Researchers assumed that CRISPR was turning off genes. They shouldn’t have.

Every living cell on Earth has proteins. Typically thousands of them, that serve as molecular machines to digest food, sense the environment, or anything else a cell must do. However, many genes, and the proteins they code for, have unknown functions. In humans, the function of about 1 out of 5 of genes is unknown. To explore these dark corners of the genome, scientists can break up DNA to disable a gene, making their encoded proteins nonfunctional, and watch what happens to cells as a result, inferring the lost function from what goes wrong.

When CRISPR/Cas9 came online in 2012, it offered scientists a tool to do exactly this – cut genes. The Cas9 enzyme searches through DNA, using a “guide RNA” to look for a specific sequence, and makes a cut when it finds a match. The gene, split in two, is repaired by the cell, but often with a large chunk missing. Many scientists assume that if a chunk of a gene is missing then the protein that it encodes will not function, or even be produced.

In many cases, they would be terribly wrong.

20.12.2019 |

Philippines approves potentially unsafe GM golden rice for food and feed

Rice has not been safety tested in animals or humans

According to an announcement by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Philippines Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry has stated that it has found GMO golden rice to be "as safe as conventional rice".

The biosafety permit, addressed to the Department of Agriculture - Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), details the approval of GR2E golden rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing (FFP).

(.....)

Not tested for safety

In spite of these opinions, no animal feeding studies have been released to the public that could attest to the food safety of this GM rice. Human trials have focused on efficacy (ability of the subjects to absorb the beta-carotene in the rice) and not safety. So claims of food safety are assumptions that are not evidence-based.

19.12.2019 |

Farmer-scientist group condemns Golden Rice approval

In a sly move characteristic of the GM proponents including the various agencies in the Joint Department Circular (JDC), the direct use for food, feed and processing of the genetically modified (GM) Golden Rice has been approved on December 10 despite the staunch opposition from farmers and consumers in the Philippines. MASIPAG condemns the Golden Rice approval and the collusion among the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) and the Dept. of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) which gravely threatens not only the health of the people and the environment, but also the future of rice production and farmers’ control of seeds.

Farmers and consumers in the Philippines and in other countries as well, remain adamant that Golden Rice will not address the Vitamin A Deficiency among vulnerable sectors in developing countries, but is in fact a tool of the increasing corporate control over agriculture. By harking on the humanitarian packaging of the Golden Rice, and marketing it as ‘Healthier Rice,’ proponents are deceiving and blinding the people from the ulterior intention of Golden Rice which is to usher in more genetically modified food such as soybean, cotton, potato and more varieties of GM corn. According to IRRI’s website, research is also being conducted on high-iron and zinc rice in response to iron-deficiency anemia and stunting.

10.12.2019 |

What Food Retailers Need to Know about the New GMO Deregulation

When it comes to GMOs in food, there is a strong alliance between food retailers and consumers. Consumers do not want GMOs in their food, and food retailers do not want to sell any. Leading European retailers have developed “non-GMO” and organic product lines in response to consumer demand for non-GMO products in the conventional and organic sector. Both product lines represent sustainability, transparency and quality.

But recent developments at EU level and in several member states might challenge the strategy, business model and financial results of food retailers: It is highly likely that the new EU Commission will make a proposal for the deregulation of products obtained with new genetic engineering – and food retailers could suffer tremendously from this development.

Support Us

Social Media

Our Projects