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: Weizenkorn Triticum Karamyschevii Schwamlicum fotografiert von Ursula Schulz-Dornburg im Vavilov Institut zu St.Petersburg

16.06.2021 |

What is a ‘conventional GMO’?

EU Commission embraces new industry-led terminology

16 June 2021 / Testbiotech is today publishing a backgrounder showing how the EU Commission is trying to establish new official terminology which is set to cause ‘fundamental confusion’ in regulation. Experts with close affiliations to the biotech industry were the first to introduce the new term ‘conventional GMO’ to imply that the methods used in genetic engineering would have no inherent generic risks. This term was then embraced in an EU Commission report without any explanation or justification. A possible consequence could be wide ranging deregulation of genetically engineered organisms ‘through the backdoor’.

The new ‘industry-friendly’ term is used in a Commission report on new genomic techniques (New GE), published in April 2021. The term ‘conventional GMO’ appears throughout the text as well as in the glossary, and is used to mean ‘transgenic’. This gives the impression that genetic engineering is as safe as conventional breeding.

This new terminology is in clear contradiction to a European Court of Justice ruling and EU GMO regulation: the well-established legal meaning of ‘conventional’ lies in the application of traditional breeding methods based on the usage of genetic diversity and natural biological mechanisms. The resulting characteristics can also occur naturally and are considered to be safe. Conversely, genetic engineering techniques are associated with specific inherent risks and can result in genetic changes unlikely to occur in nature.

09.06.2021 |

European Parliament calls for ban on gene drive technology

Precaution prevails in its report on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

9.06.2021, Berlin - The European Parliament yesterday confirmedi it‘s precautionary stance towards the use of a new genetic engineering technology called gene drive. In its report on the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, adopted at the European Parliament’s plenary on 08.06.2021, Parliamentarians demand that „no releases of genetically engineered gene drive organisms should be allowed, including for nature conservation purposes, in line with the precautionary principle.“

09.06.2021 |

CRISPR/Cas Explainer Video 3: Risks (Part 1)

Genome editing applications (especially CRISPR/Cas) in crops are complex and controversially discussed topics. The videos from the „Project Genetic Engineering and the Environment” explain the basics of the technology, the possibilities and the risks associated with CRISPR/Cas gene scissors.

The content of the videos is intended to provide the basis for an informed debate.

We look forward to receiving your feedback and questions about the content of our videos! Just send an email to: info(at)fachstelle-gentechnik-umwelt.de

The risks associated with CRISPR/Cas are explained in two different videos. This video explains the first part of the risks of CRISPR/Cas considering unintended effects on the metabolism of plants and their interactions with ecosystems.

07.06.2021 |

EU Countries Support the Deregulation of New GMOs

Last week, EU Member States welcomed the alarming Commission’s study on “New Genomic Techniques”, which suggests certain new GMOs to be exempt from rigorous safety assessments. Slow Food sees this disappointing conclusion as a proof of the EU’s resort to biotechnologies as a silver bullet for current food system problems and calls on the EU institutions to keep new genomic techniques strictly regulated.

06.06.2021 |

The European Commission’s Working Document on “New Genomic Techniques” POLICY BRIEF

On 29 April 2021, the European Commission published a report in which it concluded that new GMOs or New Genomic Techniques (NGT) “could provide benefits for EU Society” including improving the sustainability of our food systems, and that the current EU GMO rules were no longer “fit for purpose”, paving the way for the deregulation of certain new GMO crops. Such deregulation could entail less stringent safety assessments of new GMOs as well as no longer requiring new GMOs to be labelled or traceable throughout the food supply chain, which currently ensure farmers’ and consumers’ freedom of choice.

What does the report say?

The report summarizes consultation responses submitted by EU member states and stakeholders (including civil society organizations, farmers’ associations and businesses), as well as various EU reports. The Commission’s investigation is clearly marked by an effort to suggest a balanced approach. However, there are clear indications that the study does want to set political accents that are serving industry interests:

26.05.2021 |

EU food retailers oppose any moves to classify new plant breeding techniques as non-GMO

Leading EU supermarkets such as Aldi, Rewe and Lidl say that all products stemming from new genetic engineering methods such as CRISPR/Cas, TALENs and others, must be classified as GMOs.

19.05.2021 |

‎The Food Chain: What's the appetite for gene edited food?

Gene editing could revolutionise agriculture, with some scientists promising healthier and more productive crops and animals, but will consumers want to eat them?

With the first gene edited crops recently approved for sale, Emily Thomas hears why this technology might be quicker, cheaper and more accurate than the older genetic engineering techniques that produced GMOs, and asks whether these differences could make it more acceptable to a deeply sceptical, even fearful public.

Contributors:

Jennifer Kuzma, North Carolina State University;

Hiroshi Ezura, University of Tsukuba and Sanatech Seed;

Neth Daño, ETC Group;

Philippe Dumont, Calyxt

17.05.2021 |

Slow Food Europe Podcast: What’s Going on with New GMOs?

Episode 1 | What’s Going on with New GMOs?

What are new GMOs? How do they differ from old GMOs? What are the EU latest developments on the matter? We asked three experts to answer these questions and many more:

Elisa D’Aloisio, peasant farmer at the European Coordination Via Campesina with a PhD in genetics and practical expertise in GMOs

Martin Sommer, policy coordinator at IFOAM Organics Europe, the association for organic food and farming in Europe

Madeleine Coste, Policy Officer at Slow Food Europe

30.04.2021 |

EU Commission wants to reform GMO regulation

Testbiotech points to already existing legal flexibility

30 April 2021 / The EU Commission has published a report on new genomic techniques (New GE, genome editing) in plants and animals. They have concluded that the current EU GMO regulation should be reformed. Its fundamental goals are to promote New GE applications in agriculture and to foster international trade, technology and product development. The Commission is also demanding that decisions on market approvals should consider the potential benefits and not only the outcome of risk assessment. Safety for health and environment should nevertheless be guaranteed. A public consultation will be held in the coming months to resolve open questions.

Testbiotech plans to contribute to the consultation and also sees the need for some adjustment. One reason: in many cases, the risk assessment of the New GE applications is much more complex compared to ‘Old GE’. At the same time, Testbiotech also points out that current regulation provides enough flexibility for adjustments. This is not only relevant for standards in risk assessment. For example, the EU Commission can already take potential benefits into account in its decisions on market approvals. However, as Testbiotech emphasises, these aspects must not be confused with scientific questions of risk assessment.

30.04.2021 |

Commission under fire for new 'deregulatory' approach to GMOs

The EU's existing legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is not "fit for purpose" for new genomic techniques and needs to be adapted to contribute to sustainable food systems, a European Commission study has concluded.

(.....)

EUobserver recently revealed how the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) uncovered new lobbying techniques aimed at deregulating new GMOs via climate-friendly narratives.

"DG SANTE [the EU Commission branch responsible for this report] has clearly listened more to the biotech lobby than to anyone else. Its study on new GMOs is yet another example of the corporate capture of EU decision-making," said Nina Holland, a researcher at CEO.

These groups have previously warned that the unintended effects of new GMOs are still unpredictable, amid concerns about the possible loss of agricultural diversity.

"GMOs by another name are still GMOs, and must be treated as such under the law," said Greenpeace.

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