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

09.03.2021 |

The next neocolonial gold rush? African food systems are the ‘new oil,’ UN documents say

Planning documents for the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit shed new light on the agenda behind the controversial food summit that hundreds of farmers’ and human rights groups are boycotting. The groups say agribusiness interests and elite foundations are dominating the process to push through an agenda that would enable the exploitation of global food systems, and especially Africa.

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A section titled “the promise of digital and biotechnologies and the transformation of food systems,” discusses “the significant potential for capturing large economic, social and environmental payoffs from the use of biotechnology products … In West Africa, for instance, farmers can benefit significantly from the adoption of Bt cotton.”

The paper does not reference the failed Bt cotton experiment in Burkina Faso, the first country in Africa to adopt a large-scale genetically engineered crop for small farmers. Monsanto’s Bt cotton resisted insects and provided good yields, but could not deliver the same high quality as the native variety, and the country abandoned the GM crop.

04.03.2021 |

25 Years of GMOs, and Some New Insights from Argentina

In the winter of 1996, Monsanto and a few other companies first began to sell genetically engineered seeds to commercial growers, and also mounted a massive public relations effort to convince people of their supposed benefits.

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Twenty-five years later, genetically engineered crop varieties are grown on roughly 190 million hectares worldwide – a relatively constant figure since the early to mid-2010s – and the profile of what is being grown and where does not differ very much from the late 1990s. Half the global GMO acreage is in soybeans, with soybeans, corn, cotton and canola representing 99 percent of all genetically engineered crops. Forty percent of all GMO acreage is in the US and 95 percent of the acreage is in just seven countries. Eighty-five percent of GMO crops are engineered to withstand high doses of chemical weed-killers – most often Monsanto/Bayer’s “Roundup” family of herbicides – and more than 40 percent produce a bacterial pesticide aimed to attack various “pest” species, but with long-documented harms for a host of beneficial insects. (The total exceeds 100 percent due to varieties that contain multiple, or “stacked,” engineered traits.)

24.02.2021 |

New GM technology has no place in sustainable farming

Our MEPs Benoît Biteau and Martin Häusling argue that new GM technology won’t solve the problems of industrial agriculture and will undermine nature, climate protection and the European Green Deal.

GM developers are promoting ‘gene editing’ as a way to save nature and the climate

In recent years, a range of genetic modification (GM) techniques have emerged that are referred to as ‘gene editing’. One of them is the much-hyped CRISPR/Cas ‘gene scissors’, whose inventors have been awarded the Nobel Prize. The GM seed industry is claiming that we cannot miss out on this technology – which they call “plant breeding innovation” – if we want to make farming more sustainable, and reduce pesticide use in particular.

There’s no doubt that farming must become more sustainable. There’s no doubt also that there is an urgent need to reduce artificial inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers. But telling us that GM is a way to get there? Seriously?

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.

Wir bedanken uns ganz herzlich bei allen Spenderinnen und Spendern!

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Der Weltacker freut sich auf Euren Besuch im Botanischen Volkspark Pankow

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