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Ecological risks: keep new genetic engineering in agriculture regulated! | Global 2000

As leaders gather at the UN Conference on Biological Diversity in Montreal (COP 15) to adopt the "Paris Agreement for Nature", the European Commission is pushing deregulation plans for a new generation of genetically modified crops (new GMOs) Ahead. A new BUND overview on the ecological risks of new genetic engineering and a current one Briefing from GLOBAL 2000 show: The abolition of the EU protective measures for new genetic engineering would entail direct and indirect dangers for the environment.

Deregulation of EU genetic engineering poses a threat to biodiversity

“The application of New Genetic Engineering (NGT) to plants is less precise than claimed. Cultivation of NGT crops poses risks to biodiversity and threatens organic farming. NGT crops will inevitably further intensify industrial agriculture, which is known to be one of the main causes of biodiversity loss,” explains Martha Mertens, spokeswoman for the BUND working group on genetic engineering and author of BUND background paper "Ecological Risks of New Genetic Engineering Processes". The ecological risks associated with new GMOs and their new properties are manifold. to the out previous GMO cultivation known – from increasing pesticide use to outcrossing – there are also specific new risks from the techniques themselves. "New applications such as multiplexing, ie that several properties of a plant can be changed at the same time, or the production of new ingredients in the plant are added, which makes risk assessment significantly more difficult due to the lack of data," Martha Mertens continues. There is currently insufficient independent scientific research on this.

The environmental protection organizations GLOBAL 2000 and BUND therefore demand: Strict risk assessment, labeling and ecological protective measures must remain in place for new genetic engineering. GLOBAL 2000 and BUND appeal to the European environment ministers to advocate strict safety tests so that NGT plants do not contribute to a dramatic loss of biodiversity and entire ecosystems. The European Commission has announced a new legislative proposal for EU genetic engineering legislation for spring 2023.

Brigitte Reisenberger, spokeswoman for genetic engineering at GLOBAL 2000, to this: "The EU Commission must not throw 20 years of important safety regulations overboard and fall for unsubstantiated marketing claims by seed and chemical companies, which have already attracted attention with the old genetic engineering with false promises and very real environmental damage."

Daniela Wannemacher, expert on genetic engineering policy at BUND, adds: "It is important that new genetic engineering remains subject to genetic engineering law, above all: it is labeled and risk-tested. This is the only way to protect agro-ecological approaches, organic farming and conventional agriculture and food production without genetic engineering. Likewise, the negative impacts of new GMOs on the environment need to be further considered.”

What are the real solutions?

Agroecological farming drastically reduces climate-relevant emissions and the use of pesticides. It avoids disease-prone monocultures and soil erosion, provides climate resilience, protects biodiversity, and increases food security. These are broad systemic benefits that are not solely focused on individual genetic traits. To the extent that genetic traits are useful, conventional breeding benefits from whole genome resistance to pests and diseases and continues to outperform genetic engineering.

Written by Option

Option is an idealistic, fully independent and global social media platform on sustainability and civil society, founded by Helmut Melzer. Together we show positive alternatives in all areas and support meaningful innovations and forward-looking ideas - constructive-critical, optimistic, down to earth. The option community is dedicated exclusively to relevant news and documents the significant progress made by our society.

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