GMO-free regions call for an international GMO register
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
In a declaration, the European network of GMO-free regions has called for the establishment of an international register of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Plants and animals whose genetic material has been manipulated with the aid of genetic engineering scissors such as CRISPR/CAS are also to be entered there. The network proposed the existing register of the Biosafety Clearinghouse from the Cartagena Protocol for biosafety as a suitable framework.
The network includes 64 European regions that have declared themselves GMO-free. The President is Dr Beatrix Tappeser, Hesse's State Secretary for the Environment. At the opening of the ninth network meeting last week in Berlin, she welcomed the latest decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the classification of CRISPR/CAS. “For us, this is an important milestone which makes clear that food and feed produced with the new genetic engineering processes must also be subject to comprehensive risk assessment, traceability and labelling.” Since many countries outside the EU do not classify such products as genetic engineering, a public international register of all GMOs released worldwide is required.
“For us, this is an important milestone which makes clear that food and feed produced with the new genetic engineering processes must also be subject to comprehensive risk assessment, traceability and labelling.”
– Dr Beatrix Tappeser
The members of the network assessed the so-called “gene drives” worrisome. The genes of an insect, for example, are manipulated in such a way that the change spreads over an entire population within a few generations and can extinguish it. “In our view, the release of organisms that can destroy entire populations is unacceptable,” explains Tappeser. The EU and the international community should decide on a moratorium.
In view of the significantly increased concentration of market and research power in the seed and agrochemical business, the GMO-free regions called for more public involvement in seed breeding and research without genetic engineering. The declaration states that “the genetic diversity of all plants and animals should be preserved and made accessible as one of mankind's most valuable public goods.”
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In the declaration, the network describes the concept of GMO-free regions as a success story. Regional cooperation with farmers' associations, companies and non-governmental organisations along the entire agricultural and food value chain is a strong and solid foundation of this regional movement. In addition, the demand for regionally produced, GMO-free protein plants has increased due to the increasing GMO-free labelling of foodstuffs - with many advantages for the regional economy, crop rotation and soil fertility.