News

2018-07-25 |

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."

2018-07-25 |

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.

2018-07-25 |

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."

2018-07-25 |

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.”

2018-07-25 |

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."

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