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18.07.2018 |

New Study Finds Unintended Consequences of CRISPR Gene Editing

Scientists and biotechnologists have heralded the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system as revolutionary way to edit DNA, like scissors and a glue stick for the genome. But a new study found some potentially harmful unintended effects.

This isn’t the first time a paper has found flaws in CRISPR’s abilities, though one previous paper on the matter has been retracted. But many feel this new research is worth taking seriously, and that CRISPR might cause large, unexpected deletions to a cell’s genome.

“We speculate that current assessments may have missed a substantial proportion of potential genotypes generated by on-target Cas9 cutting and repair, some of which may have potential pathogenic consequences following somatic editing of large populations of mitotically active cells,” the authors of the study from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom write in the paper published this week in Nature Biotechnology. Basically, past research may have missed lots of CRISPR’s potentially harmful consequences.

18.07.2018 |

International Symposium: Report from South Korea Meeting About Labelling of GM Food

The demand for better labelling of genetically modified food is rising in South Korea. With citizens taking the lead, over 200,000 people signed a petition in March, 2018 and was officially submitted to the government, but no response has yet been coming forward.

On July 19, 2018 an international symposium will be held in Seoul with invited specialists from Japan and the United States, to discuss the current status of GM food labelling. The hosts are different South Korean civil society organizations. Consumers Union of Japan and Seikatsu Club will be representing Japan.

17.07.2018 |

CRISPR causes greater genetic damage than previously thought

Caution required for using CRISPR in potential gene therapies – and food plants

Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute have discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought. These results create safety implications for gene therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 in the future as the unexpected damage could lead to dangerous changes in some cells. Potential consequences could include triggering cancer.

Reported on 16 July 2018 in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the study also revealed that standard tests for detecting DNA changes miss finding this genetic damage, and that caution and specific testing will be required for any potential gene therapies.

As usual we see far more honesty about the off-target effects of CRISPR from genetic engineers in the field of medical research than we see from the plant genetic engineers. However, the technique as used in plants is the same, as are the mechanisms of DNA repair. These off-target effects in food plants could have possible knock-on effects on food safety, including unexpected toxicity and allergenicity.

16.07.2018 |

Potential CRISPR damage has been 'seriously underestimated,' study finds

From the earliest days of the CRISPR-Cas9 era, scientists have known that the first step in how it edits genomes — snipping DNA — creates an unholy mess: Cellular repairmen frantically try to fix the cuts by throwing random chunks of DNA into the breach and deleting other random bits. Research published on Monday suggests that’s only the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg: CRISPR-Cas9 can cause significantly greater genetic havoc than experts thought, the study concludes, perhaps enough to threaten the health of patients who would one day receive CRISPR-based therapy.

The results come hard on the heels of two studies that identified a related issue: Some CRISPR’d cells might be missing a key anti-cancer mechanism and therefore be able to initiate tumors.

The DNA damage found in the new study included deletions of thousands of DNA bases, including at spots far from the edit. Some of the deletions can silence genes that should be active and activate genes that should be silent, including cancer-causing genes.

10.07.2018 |

Genetically modified organisms: Restriction proposal for Cabinet

Denis Naughten recommends opting out of directive on GMOs

A proposal “to restrict or prohibit” cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is to be put to the Cabinet on Tuesday by Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten.

Mr Naughten has recommended opting out of an EU directive on GMOs on the basis that it is critically important Ireland takes “whatever steps are necessary” to maintain our GMO cultivation-free status. He said that status is “a key element of our international reputation as a green, sustainable food producer”.

The transposition of Directive 2015/412 enables Ireland to opt out of cultivation of GMO crops, approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU on a much wider range of policy grounds than had previously been the case.

10.07.2018 |

Government approves wider restrictions on the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland

The Cabinet has agreed to enable Ireland to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Ireland.

The Government approved the transposition of an EU Directive, which will enable Ireland to opt out of cultivation of GMO crops approved for cultivation elsewhere in the EU.

This will happen on a much wider range of policy grounds than had previously been the case.

These grounds include where such cultivation would be contrary to environmental policy objectives, town and country planning, land use, socio-economic impacts, avoidance of GMO presence in other products, agricultural policy objectives and public policy.

09.07.2018 |

Rats fed GM stacked-trait maize developed leaky stomachs

Rats fed a triple-stacked trait GM maize engineered for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance developed leaky stomachs, according to a new peer-reviewed paper by Australian researchers.

In the experiment conducted by Irena M. Zdziarski of the University of Adelaide, Judy A. Carman of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research (IHER), and John W. Edwards of Flinders University, the rats were split into two groups of 10 males each.

One group was fed on the GM stacked-trait maize, containing Monsanto Bt insecticidal toxin traits MON863 and MON810, and glyphosate-tolerant trait NK603, for six months. That's twice as long as the typical rat feeding study performed by industry for regulatory authorisations. The GM maize was grown in the US.

The other group of rats was fed for the same amount of time on the control diet, which contained a commercially-grown non-GM maize grown in Australia. The control maize was not sourced from the US due to the difficulty of finding a non-GM corn variety from that country that would be uncontaminated with GM genes.

07.07.2018 |

Tell Deutsche Bahn it's the end of the line for glyphosate!

It might come as a surprise that a train company is Germany's biggest glyphosate user. Every year, the national railway Deutsche Bahn sprays over 65 thousand kilograms of toxic pesticide on its tracks -- endangering ecosystems throughout the whole country.

Austria’s national railway company has pledged to completely end its use of glyphosate within five years -- there's no reason why Deutsche Bahn can't do the same.

The German government is currently looking for ways to reduce glyphosate use. This is the perfect time to put public pressure on the 100 percent state-owned railway corporation to phase out the dangerous pesticide.

Deutsche Bahn's railway network spans 33,500 kilometers -- that's 33,500 kilometers soaked with glyphosate, spreading its poisonous traces through all of Germany.

06.07.2018 |

Bayer CropScience LP; Availability of Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status of Cotton Genetically Engineered For Resistance to HPPD-Inhibitor Herbicides (e.g., Isoxaflutole) and Glyphosate

Docket ID: APHIS-2017-0073Agency: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)Parent Agency: Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Summary:

We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has received a petition from Bayer CropScience LP seeking a determination of nonregulated status of cotton designated as event GHB811, which has been genetically engineered for dual resistance to HPPD-Inhibitor herbicides (e.g., Isoxaflutole) and glyphosate. The petition has been submitted in accordance with our regulations concerning the introduction of certain genetically engineered organisms and products. We are making the Bayer CropScience LP petition available for review and comment to help us identify potential environmental and interrelated economic issues and impacts that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service may determine should be considered in our evaluation of the petition.

06.07.2018 |

Slovakia turns back on ag biotechnology

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Farmers in Slovakia have changed direction on their approach to planting genetically engineered (GE) crops over the past decade, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2006, Slovak farmers planted 30 hectares of GE crops, a figure that grew to a record high 1,930 hectares in 2008. Now, there are no GE crops under development in the country.

“Demand for GE products, specifically including meat and dairy produced from animals fed GE-feed, has dwindled under the influence of antibiotech non-governmental organizations (NGOs), retailers, and neighboring countries (Austria, Hungary, and Germany),” the USDA said. “Where the Slovak government was previously supportive of biotechnology, they have since changed their stance, again likely in response to local messages originating from antibiotech NGOs and activist groups.”

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