Save Our Seeds

Saatgut ist die Grundlage unserer Ernährung. Es steht am Anfang und am Ende eines Pflanzenlebens. Die Vielfalt und freie Zugänglichkeit dieses Menschheitserbes zu erhalten, das von Generation zu Generation weitergegeben wird, ist die Aufgabe von Save Our Seeds.

Foto:
Ursula Schulz-Dornburg

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.

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.

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.

03.02.2021 |

CRISPR Tomatoes approved in Japan

Wide range of associated risks

3 Februar 2021 / Japan granted approval in January for the first ‘CRISPR tomatoes’ to be used in food production. There are plans to distribute the genetically engineered (GE) plants to home gardeners. The tomatoes contain a much higher concentration of a plant compound (GABA) compared to those derived from conventional breeding. This is an example of how it is possible to bring about major changes in the composition of food plants without inserting additional genes. The cultivation and consumption of the tomatoes are, however, associated with a wide range of risks.

27.01.2021 |

Survey: EU citizens reject genetic engineering of wild species with Gene Drives

European “Stop Gene Drives” campaign demands global moratorium

Brussels, 27.01.2021

Should humanity release genetically engineered gene drive organisms into nature? 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%).

13.01.2021 |

Generation unknown: exposing the truth behind the new generation of GMOs

As Europe's farming sector faces up to the combined challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and an increasingly globalised market, a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is being portrayed as a magical solution.

Some have suggested that these new genetically modified crops, animals and microbes should be exempt from GMO safety legislation, introduced to protect consumers and the environment from the risks posed by GMOs.

This paper argues that these new forms of genetic modification (including techniques such as gene editing) would not make the farming system more resilient to extreme weather, reduce biodiversity loss, or result in healthier food and fairer incomes for farmers, and because of the risks they pose, must be controlled by the existing laws.

It asks key questions as to who will benefit from this new generation of GMOs, who does the technology empower, who does it disempower and who owns it? It also argues for support for genuine solutions that will benefit farmers, consumers and nature in our crisis-engulfed world.

18.12.2020 |

New GE unintentionally leaves traces in cells

CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications cause changes in gene regulation

18 December 2020 / A new scientific publication shows that CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications in animals unintentionally leave traces. The findings are not related to unintended changes in the DNA, which have often been described, but to gene regulation, i.e. epigenetics. The effects are heritable and may, for example, result in disruption of embryonic development.

The new scientific publication describes CRISPR/Cas experiments with mice in which their DNA is cut and additional genetic information inserted. Besides intended changes in DNA in the target region, the findings also showed unintended changes in so-called epigenetic markers that control gene regulation. The effects were heritable and could still be identified after ten generations. According to the authors, the effects can also be used to identify CRISPR/Cas gene scissor applications.

25.11.2020 |

EFSA: Confusion about risks associated with New GE plants

Genetic engineering is endangering the livelihoods of future generations
Genetic engineering is endangering the livelihoods of future generations

Opinion of the EU authority considered insufficient and misleading

25 November 2020 / Testbiotech is extremely critical of a recent European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) opinion on the risks associated with plants derived from new genetic engineering (New GE). It considers the EFSA report on CRISPR & Co is both inadequate and misleading on the protection of health and the environment.

In its opinion published yesterday, EFSA claims that applications of gene scissors, such as CRISPR/Cas on plants, do not pose any specific risks as long as no additional genes are inserted. At the same time, EFSA agrees with Testbiotech that New GE opens up the way to new genetic combinations since it makes the whole genome accessible for changes caused, for example, by targeting several genes at once.

13.11.2020 |

Press statement by Save Our Seeds on EFSAs advise for the risk assessment of Gene Drive Insects

save our seeds
save our seeds

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), on 12.11.2020 published an assessment on whether the currently existing European guidelines for the risk assessment of genetically modified insects are sufficient for the risk assessment of genetically modified Gene Drive insects.

Mareike Imken, Gene Drive policy advisor at Save Our Seeds for Gene Drive technology, comments on this:

EFSAs assessment, that existing guidelines for genetically engineered insects are insufficient in order to conduct environmental risk assessment for Gene Drive Organisms,

confirms our analysis. Due to their novel characteristics it will be extremely challenging – if not impossible – to uimodel, predict and monitor the behaviour of these genetically engineered organisms.

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