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

22.04.2021 |

First application for approval of CRISPR/Cas plants in the EU

DowDupont maize (Corteva) is resistant to herbicides and produces insecticides

The first application for approval of CRISPR/Cas plants is now in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) register. Maize DP915635 is resistant to the herbicide glufosinate and produces an insecticidal toxin found in specific ferns growing on trees. DowDupont is marketing its genetically engineered plants under the company name Corteva, and also has filed several patent applications for the plants, some of which have already been granted in Europe.

The maize was generated with a combination of old and new genetic engineering methods (GE): to deliver the CRISPR/Cas ‘gene scissors’ into the plant cells, they are first bombarded with small particles (‘gene canon’). In consequence, the cells produced the enzyme for the gene scissors which then inserted a DNA-sequence into the maize genome. This additional DNA-sequence is meant to facilitate the insertion of other genes, and therefore is called a ‘landing pad’. In a next step, again involving ‘old GE’, a further gene construct is inserted into the ‘landing pad’ in the maize genome, conferring resistance to the herbicide and producing the fern toxin.

20.04.2021 |


As the European Parliament is preparing its reaction (own-initiative report) to the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, civil society organisations in the areas of environment, consumers, food systems, animal welfare, health, consumer co-operatives, farming, fisheries, development, social justice, climate, and forestry have come together to set out 10 key priorities which they call on MEPs to endorse in their report.


Priority 7

Promote precaution and farmers’ rights before technological innovation

Related paragraphs in the draft EP own initiative report: Recital E, §3, §7, §8, §15, §25

The INI Report must adopt a precaution-first approach to innovation and focus on holistic solutions, such as agroecology, rather than on “techno-fixes” that ignore the systemic problems of our food system.

The report must call for new GMOs (or “Innovative Plant Breeding”, “New Genomic Techniques” or “New Breeding Techniques”) to remain regulated under the EU GMO regulations as decided by the European Court of Justice in 2018. The regulations ensure pre-market safety assessment and approval, traceability, and labelling which allow freedom of choice to both farmers and citizens.

13.04.2021 |

What Members of European Parliament should consider when discussing New GE

Testbiotech warns about biotech industry influence

13 April 2021 / The Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) at the European Parliament is organising a hearing on New Genetic Engineering (New GE or genome editing) and techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas, on 15 April 2021. A recent European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) opinion will be presented at the hearing. STOA is a service to provide impartial information to the European Parliament, but the current hearing has attracted some criticism.

STOA carried out a stakeholder consultation ahead of the consultation. There is however no sign that it will publish any of the submitted comments. Testbiotech has therefore decided to publicize its input to the consultation in the interests of transparency in a backgrounder. It clearly shows that current GMO regulation is sufficient in regard to genome edited plants.

01.04.2021 |

Toxic impact of pesticides on bees has doubled, study shows

Analysis contradicts claims that the environmental impact of pesticides is falling, say scientists

“Compounds that are particularly toxic to vertebrates have been replaced by compounds with less vertebrate toxicity and that is indeed a success,” said Prof Ralf Schulz, of the University Koblenz and Landau in Germany, who led the research. “But at the same time, pesticides became more specific, and therefore, unfortunately, also more toxic to ‘non-target organisms’, like pollinators and aquatic invertebrates.”

Schulz said: “GM crops were introduced using the argument that they would reduce the dependency of agriculture on chemical pesticides. This is obviously not true if you look at toxicity levels.”

30.03.2021 |


An Ipsos opinion poll shows that the vast majority (86%) of Europeans who have heard of genetically modified (GM) crops want food produced from these plants to be labelled as such. It also shows that the majority (68%) of respondents who have heard of new GM techniques, such as CRISPR, want food produced with these techniques also labelled as GM. The polling organisation, Ipsos conducted the representative survey between 11 February and 5 March 2021 in all 27 EU countries on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament.

30.03.2021 |

Genome-edited plants: negative effects on ecosystems are possible

New scientific publication shows the need for detailed investigation of ecological risks

30 March 2021 / A new scientific publication in the Environmental Sciences Europe journal provides an overview of the unwanted effects the release of genome-edited plants can have on ecosystems. These result from the intended properties induced by genome editing and can contribute to various metabolic processes. The publication is based on Project Genetic Engineering and the Environment (FGU) findings, and is one of the first worldwide to focus on ecological risks associated with specific CRISPR/Cas plant applications.

30.03.2021 |

Civil society, farmers and business organizations: Vice-President Timmermans, don’t deregulate GM crops & animals

BRUSSELS, 30 MARCH 2021 – Today, a large coalition of 162 civil society, farmers and business organisations calls on Vice President of the Commission Timmermans to ensure all organisms derived from new genetic engineering techniques continue to be regulated in accordance with existing EU GMO standards – upholding the precautionary principle, safeguarding a high level of protection and the right of farmers and consumers to choose what they plant and eat.

The call comes as the Commission is expected to present its views on the future regulation of “new genomic techniques” at the end of April, based on an in-house study mandated by the EU Council of Ministers. Since the European Court of Justice ruled in 2018 that organisms obtained with new genetic modification techniques must be regulated under the EU’s existing GMO laws, there has been intense lobbying from the agriculture biotech industry to weaken the legislation.

29.03.2021 |

Derailing EU rules on new GMOs

CRISPR-Files expose lobbying tactics to deregulate new GMOs

With the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Von der Leyen Commission has committed to a fundamental shift away from industrial agriculture as we know it today. With a 50 per cent pesticide reduction target, and a 25 per cent organic agriculture target by 2030, business as usual is no longer an option. This creates an existential crisis for those corporations that are dominant both in the pesticide and in the commercial seed market, notably Bayer, BASF, Corteva (DowDupont) and Syngenta (ChemChina).

26.03.2021 |

Genome-edited Camelina sativa with a unique fatty acid content and its potential impact on ecosystems


SDN-1 and SDN-2 applications of CRISPR/Cas induce small-sized changes of the DNA sequence such as small insertions or point mutations at targeted genomic regions. These alterations are often considered comparable to naturally occurring genetic variants in crops. However, many genome-edited plants contain traits or complex genetic combinations that so far have not been established using conventional approaches and must be considered novel. This novel genetic variability can cause unwanted effects in the plants during their development or under stress conditions, and potentially disturb signalling pathways and ultimately plant-environmental interactions in case of a release.

11.03.2021 |

Risk assessment standards: Pressure growing on EU Commission and EFSA

EU Parliament has again voted against further market approvals of genetically engineered plants

11 March 2021 / The EU Parliament has again voted with a huge majority against further market approvals for genetically engineered plants. Substantial gaps in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) risk assessment were identified. In earlier votes, EU member states also voted overwhelmingly against market approvals. Consequently, there is growing pressure on the EU Commission for much closer scrutiny of EFSA findings and applications for market approval.

The applications were for the import of Monsanto/Bayer cotton (for food and feed) and for Syngenta (ChemChina) maize. Maize MZIR098 is resistant to the herbicide, glufosinate, and produces two synthetic insecticides (Bt -toxins). Cotton GHB614 × T304-40 × GHB119 is made resistant to glufosinate and glyphosate and also produces two insecticides.

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