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25.07.2018 |

A victory for food safety and the environment: ECJ ruling on new GMOs

Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that organisms obtained by mutagenesis, otherwise known as "new breeding techniques" by the biotech industry, are in fact Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and are subject to the 2001 EU GMO Directive and all its obligations. Despite heavy lobbying by the industry looking for ways to circumvent the GMO Directive, the Court's ruling is a victory for European food safety and the environment.

Bart Staes MEP, Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and spokesperson on GMOs comments:

"Today's ruling is a victory for food safety and the environment. Just because the industry has come up with new ways to modify organisms does not mean that these techniques should be exempt from existing EU standards on GMOs. Recent scientific studies show that these new techniques might not be as accurate as the industry claims them to be, that's why it's essential that they come under the same labelling requirements and impact assessments as existing GMOs. These new patented organisms may have unintended effects, as well the potential to increase our dependence on the agri-chemical industry, and therefore must be stringently monitored by the European Food Safety Authority for any risks to human, animal and environmental health."

25.07.2018 |

Campaign groups demand action as Rothamsted Research GM field trial is ruled unlawful

GM Freeze and GeneWatch UK have today written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, to demand the immediate halt of an unlawful trial of gene edited plants at Rothamsted Research. The trial of genetically modified (GM) Camelina sativa, includes some plants which have been genetically modified using new gene editing techniques. These plants did not go through the required legal process of an environmental risk assessment and public consultation.

Environmental and consumer organisations have repeatedly pointed out that gene edited plants and animals are covered by regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which require environmental risk assessments, food safety assessments and traceability and labelling of products. These important legal requirements are designed to protect human health and the environment and to allow consumers to choose to avoid GM foods, should they wish to do so. However, the field trial at Rothamsted was allowed to go ahead based on incorrect advice that these important safeguards were unnecessary. Today, a ruling from the European Court of Justice confirmed that GMO regulations do in fact apply to gene edited crops.

The organisations call for the current trial to end immediately and for any future trials to follow the legal requirements for GMOs.

25.07.2018 |

EU's top court confirms safety checks needed for new 'GMO 2.0'

The EU's top court ruled today that a controversial new generation of food genetic engineering techniques should be subject to EU safety checks and consumer labelling.

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice confirmed that new techniques to modify genetic material in plant or animal cells – so called 'GMO 2.0' – must undergo the same safety checks for their impacts on the environment and human health as existing genetically modified foods (GMOs).

Mute Schimpf, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "These new 'GMO 2.0' genetic engineering techniques must be fully tested before they are let out in the countryside and into our food. We welcome this landmark ruling which defeats the biotech industry's latest attempt to push unwanted genetically-modified products onto our fields and plates."

The biotech industry has been arguing that GMO 2.0 foods and crops should not go through existing EU safety and labelling laws. Today's decision therefore preserves the EU's food safety and traceability standards, which would have been threatened by any ambiguity in the ruling.

Mute Schimpf continued: "EU and national lawmakers now need to ensure that all new genetically modified products are fully tested, and they must also support the small-scale, nature-friendly agriculture we urgently need."

25.07.2018 |

New GMOs cannot escape testing and labelling under EU law, EU court rules

Brussels – A new brand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), derived from so-called gene editing techniques, must comply with risk assessment, traceability and labelling requirements under EU GMO law, the European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday.

The Court said that any organism obtained with new genetic engineering techniques falls within the scope of GMO law. It argued that the risks linked to the use of these techniques are comparable to those associated with conventional genetic engineering.

The ruling confirms warnings by scientists who have argued that gene editing can cause unintended DNA damage with unknown consequences. A recent article in Nature showed that CRISPR/Cas can cause much greater genetic deletions and more complex genomic rearrangements than experts thought.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Court makes it crystal clear that plants and animals derived from gene editing are subject to the same safety and labelling requirements as other GM organisms. These requirements exist to prevent harm and inform consumers about the food they eat. Releasing these new GMOs into the environment without proper safety measures is illegal and irresponsible, particularly given that gene editing can lead to unintended side effects. The European Commission and European governments must now ensure that all new GMOs are fully tested and labelled, and that any field trials are brought under GMO rules.”

25.07.2018 |

ECJ ruling on gene editing products: Victory for consumers, farmers, environment

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today published its ruling on the legal status of food and feed crops derived from certain new genetic modification techniques. It gave clear confirmation that organisms from these new gene editing techniques are covered by existing EU GMO regulation.

Reacting to the decision, which corroborates the January 2018 opinion of one of the court’s Advocates General, Corporate Europe Observatory’s agribusiness campaigner Nina Holland said:

“This is a big victory for the environment, farmers and consumers. It clarifies that EU decision makers have to ensure that products from these new techniques are assessed for potential food safety and environmental risks, and that they are properly labelled as GMOs.

“Big agribusiness corporations will continue their lobbying in Brussels to escape EU safety rules for the new GMOs, but today's ruling leaves no doubt: Products from gene editing are covered by the existing EU GMO rules.

"This ruling also means that the secret, unregulated field trial currently run in Belgium is illegal. The CRISPR-technique does in no way have a "history of safe use", and the plants used in this trial are undoubtedly GMOs. Belgian authorities should act accordingly and halt this trial."

25.07.2018 |

The judges of the EU Court of Justice
Court of Justice of the European Union

EU Court of Justice: CRISPR is genetic engineering

The European Court of Justice today has issued a long awaited verdict on the question how to interpret the exemption of certain forms of mutagenisis from the EU regulation on genetically modified organisms. Acoording to its press release today, the Court clearly states: All mutagenesis is genetic modfication. Therefore, some traditional forms of random mutagenesis (by radiation and chemical treatment) had been explicitely exempted from the regulation. This exemption, the court decided, does not apply to new forms of direct mutagenesis by new technologies of genetic engineering such as CRISPR-Cas.

25.07.2018 |

GMO Kids? Argentina Moms Confront Monsanto and Philip Morris Over Greed and Pesticides

Seventeen-year-old William Nuñez can’t walk or talk, and has to be fed through a tube in his stomach. Five-year-old Lucas Texeira suffers from a severe and incurable skin condition. Lucas Krauss has congenital microcephaly, epilepsy, delayed motor and mental development, multiple muscular atrophy and numerous related pathologies.

What do these children have in common? Their fathers, all farmers working in Latin America, were exposed to agricultural pesticides that likely damaged their DNA, increasing the risk of cancer, birth defects and neurological disorders in the children they later fathered.

They also have this in common: Their mothers are fighting for justice for their kids.

“Genetically Modified Children,” a new one-hour documentary, exposes how Philip Morris and Monsanto have exploited generations of impoverished Argentinian farmers since 1996, when the Argentinian government authorized the use of genetically engineered crops to withstand the use of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller.

24.07.2018 |

Unauthorised GMO field trial exposed as EU takes hands-off approach, Greenpeace

EU court set to rule on whether new GMOs fall under existing law

Press release

Brussels – Media reports in Belgium have exposed an unauthorised field trial of an experimental genetically modified maize in Flanders, preempting a ruling on the classification of a new brand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by the European Court of Justice on Wednesday.

The reports were published in De Morgen and La Libre.

Authorities in Belgium took a similar approach to the UK, Finland and Sweden in advising that certain plants created with a genetic engineering technique known as CRISPR do not fall under EU GMO law.

The European Court of Justice will rule whether or not GMOs produced through so-called gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR, are covered by EU GMO law or fall under an exemption reserved for so-called “mutagenesis” techniques (case C-528/16).

20.07.2018 |

Do we really need next-gen genetically modified foods to feed the world?

Companies are on the verge of selling lab-grown meat. The new products are touted as environmentally friendly, but is it what consumers want and where exactly are the lines when it comes to genetic engineering?

When a strawberry from Chile and a strawberry from the United States met in a genteel French garden 200 years ago — on a blind date arranged by gardeners who wanted to create a better berry — it was love at first sight.

Previously, imported species from the US state of Virginia hadn't produced much, while the fruits of European varieties were very small. As it turned out, the Chilean genes held the magic ingredient, and nearly every strawberry you buy in the market today comes from that strain.

Luscious strawberries may be among the the tastiest results of genetic tinkering, but they are not the only. Mesopotamians started propagating wild grasses with the biggest seeds 10,000 years ago, which eventually turned them into the crops we now call rice, wheat, barley, oats, millet and rye.

18.07.2018 |

New methods of genetic engineering and the 'poisonous CRISPR mushroom'

Testbiotech to release a video clip showing a possible future scenario

18 July 2018 / Today Testbiotech is releasing a video clip about the first mushroom to be created through having its genome manipulated by CRISPR-Cas. It is worldwide the first CRISPR organism to be approved for use in food production: US authorities gave their go-ahead in 2016. Because no additional genes were inserted, the regulatory authorities did not request a detailed risk assessment. As yet, the mushroom is not available on the market.

The video clip aims to highlight an ongoing highly dynamic process in the field of genetic engineering. New tools such as the 'DNA scissor' (nuclease) CRISPR-Cas have become cheaper and more efficient than previous methods. This means that many more plants and animals can be genetically engineered within shorter periods of times than has been the case until now. The technical potential of genome editing goes far beyond what has ever been achieved with previous methods of genetic engineering: radical changes in the genome and the usage of synthetic DNA with no natural template has become reality. Some of these genetic changes are said to be to be very small and precise. The video clip is about such 'small' and targeted genomic changes where no additional DNA sequences are inserted.

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