Illegal GMO plants and micro-organisms in Europe

Between 1 January 2021 and the present day, the European Union has had to deal with almost fifty cases of the illegal presence of GMOs on its territory. Most of the cases reported by the national authorities involve GMO plants originating in Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, but also in other countries such as Ukraine, the United States and, more surprisingly, France… GMO micro-organisms have also been detected in batches of food additives used in human and animal nutrition.

Catalonia: GMO Clearfield rapeseeds do not have better yields

In Spain, the public agronomy institute Irta regularly carries out evaluations of several varieties of rapeseed. Recently, they introduced into their evaluation some Clearfield rapeseed varieties, herbicide tolerant varieties modified via in vitro mutagenesis. Result: these GMOs, grown commercially in Europe outside the legal framework, do not have better yields than their conventional counterparts.

Synthetic Biology, talks are involving GMOs

For the past fifteen years, governments have been discussing “synthetic biology” on an international level. If to date, an “operational” definition exists, the outlines of this field remain hard to draw. Are talks of “synthetic biology” simply a change of semantics, or a genuinely new frontier of the biotechnology field? For the moment, examples of organisms or molecules obtained by synthetic biology are accumulating: unnatural proteins, GMO plants, GMO bacteria, recreated viruses, modification of living organisms directly in the environment, GMO insects, xenobacteria…

GMO viruses as laboratory tools to be spread in the environment ?

In a recent article, researchers detail several ongoing projects for the genetic modification of viruses. Some of these could be deliberately released into the environment. On February 7, 2024, the European Parliament asked the European Commission to study the potential deregulation of these GMO viruses. A general overview of those projects seems therefore necessary.

Novonesis, a new Danish industrial giant promoting “biosolutions”?

In January 2024, two Danish industrial giants of the microorganisms merged and Novonesis was born. This company sells “biosolutions” for all industrial and agricultural areas. “Bio” for biotechnological… and not biological, as it prefers to emphasize. This company uses microorganisms, often genetically modified, to make them produce enzymes.

Fungicide and herbicide micropeptides on Europe’s doorstep?

Toulouse-based Micropep Technologies has just had one of its fungicidal micropeptides approved in the United States. The technology, developed and patented by this CNRS spin-off, is aiming for European approval by 2030. However, these micropeptides are raising questions about their potential impact on ecosystems.

“Essentially biological process”, a definition shaken up

During the parliamentary work on the proposal for a European regulation on plant reproductive material, known as the “seeds regulation”, a question arose: should so-called “non-targeted mutagenesis” be considered as an “essentially biological process”? As these processes are excluded from patentability, the question may seem important. But such a decision would not be without consequences for the regulation of GMOs.

2024, a year of vigilance on the GMO file

The European Commission’s proposal to deregulate GMOs made in 2023 will not have come to an end before the European elections, as its promoters had hoped. However, beside the fact that this proposal is not the only file concerning GMOs, the forthcoming period of suspension of European parliamentary work could be used for bilateral discussions.

A Dutch seed company faces up to KWS patents

Inf’OGM interviewed a Dutch seed company that has developed a cold-resistant “organic” maize and that feels threatened by KWS patents. She tells us the story of her company Nordic Maize breeding, of her certified organic maize, of its likely future contamination by GMOs/NGTs…

French retailers want GMO/NGT to be regulated

When it comes to GMOs, french retailers say they are guided by two main principles: the application of the precautionary principle, and the traceability and consumer information. In France, this stakeholder in the agri-food sector has reservations, to say the least, about the proposed deregulation of GMOs. In June 2023, at the invitation of Anses experts, the french trade and retailing federation (Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution), currently chaired by the CEO of Carrefour, shared its thoughts.

European and French experts consulted too late on GMO/NGTs ?

While the European Union has been discussing GMO deregulation since July 2023, European and French scientific experts have been and continue to be quite ignored. In France, although the opinion of the Anses was required as early as 2021, its publication took place in March 2024, a month after the vote by MEPs. The latter decided to consult their european experts after the vote, rather than before. However, in order to deliver its opinion in July 2024, the EFSA will make an exception to its procedure: it will not organize a public consultation…

Patents pose a real threat to two plant breeders

Since autumn 2023, the issue of patents has come to the fore in the debates surrounding the deregulation of GMOs. Some Member States and MEPs are concerned about the impact of agro-industry patents on the rest of the agricultural sector. History shows that the threats they represent are very real indeed. Here are two examples of seed companies whose products are targeted by such threats.