Requirements for field trials to be tightened. Industry fears negative consequences. (Oct 22, 2012) more…
Genetically modified NK603 maize said to cause severe health problems in rats. Scientists criticise the study, politicians call for suspension of NK603 authorisation. (Sep 21, 2012) more…
Swiss national research programme NRP 59 publishes final report. Includes a large number of biosafety projects. (Aug 28, 2012) more…
Severe drought in the US: UN warns of new food crisis. New drought-tolerant maize varieties put to the test (Aug 14, 2012) more…
New EU project: Standardising environmental risk assessments while making allowances for the diversity of Europe’s agro-ecosystems (Jun 12, 2012) more…
Destruction of a GM wheat trail: Scientists seek publicity, police prevent destruction of trial plot (May 30, 2012) more…
France’s grounds for an EU cultivation ban contain no convincing evidence of environmental risks. (May 25, 2012) more…
Number of release trials with GM plants continues to fall – Only a few R&D projects among the new applications. (May 18, 2012) more…
New draft regulation from the European Commission for the authorisation of GM plants goes too far for scientists, but not far enough for critics. (Apr 4, 2012) more…
Open letter from 22 US scientists to the EPA: Western corn rootworms are becoming resistant to Bt protein; integrated pest control is necessary. (Mar 16, 2012) more…
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The project “Communication Management of Biosafety Research” funded by the BMBF has been completed at the end of 2012. In the following weeks this website will only be updated irregularly with some updates on biosafety research projects.
The editorial team of biosicherheit.de
“We did not find any evidence of direct toxic effects on honeybees, but there is a need for further research.”
Does genetically modified Bt maize pose a risk to honeybees? Stephan Härtel and his team at the University of Würzburg investigated this possibility in a three-year research project. They placed bee colonies in flight tents and studied the development of nurse bees. They fed bee larvae in the laboratory and placed observation hives in a number of different agricultural landscapes. In connection with the global bee death phenomenon, they investigated the interaction of various stress factors. They did not find that Bt maize affected the bees’ health in any of these experiments.more
Plants take up nitrogen, a key component of many biological molecules, from the soil. For efficient crop cultivation, nitrogen has to be added to the soil at regular intervals. The large-scale use of artificial nitrogen fertilizers has led to considerable yield increases for farmers, but has also damaged the environment. Plant researchers are working on ways of improving the take-up and utilisation of nitrogen by crop plants. The most ambitious aim is to develop staple crops that can use nitrogen from the atmosphere.more
GM potatoes that produce cyanophycin, the raw material for a biodegradable plastic, in their tubers rot faster than conventional potatoes. The fear that they could survive for longer on the field has therefore not been confirmed. This is one of the findings of a biosafety research project that looked at potential environmental impacts of the cyanophycin potato. more
For three summers in a row, Eva Schultheis and her team at RWTH Aachen University caught countless insects on the maize trial field and then identified the species in the laboratory. They wanted to find out whether the insect communities found in genetically modified Bt maize are different from those found in conventional maize. They found differences between the years and between individual maize varieties, but were unable to detect any influence of the genetic modification. Extensive investigations in the laboratory with the rice leaf bug, which was chosen as a representative species, also failed to find any negative Bt maize effects. GMO Safety spoke to Eva Schultheis about her research work. more
Does the cultivation of GM plants affect biodiversity? This is a topic that has been discussed many times over the years. It is a fact that global biodiversity is shrinking and agriculture is one of the main causes. Monoculture and the use of pesticides and herbicides destroy large numbers of natural habitats, which reduces species diversity on agricultural land. Critics of plant biotechnology fear that this development will be exacerbated by the cultivation of GM crops. Numerous scientific studies have investigated how the cultivation of GM crops actually affects species diversity in fields. more
Until now, genetic engineering methods have been used almost exclusively on crops for which there is an international market. Many pathogens that affect regional crops could be controlled by using genetic engineering methods to develop resistant varieties. However, this is not commercially attractive for big companies. Although there are numerous public research projects in this area, there are hardly any market authorisations on the horizon. One reason for this is the high cost of the approval process.more
The European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) is a serious problem for maize farming in Germany. Maize is now grown on 2.5 million hectares and is still on the increase. A severe corn borer infestation can lead to harvest losses of up to 50 per cent. It is difficult to combat the pest using crop rotation or chemical and biological methods, and the corn borer continues to spread to other parts of Germany every year. The losses it causes each year are now valued at between 11 and 12 million euros. What alternative control methods can be used to halt the corn borer and how environmentally friendly are they? GMO Safety spoke to Bernd Hommel from the Julius Kühn Institute in Kleinmachnow. more
Millions of cases of illness and death, especially in developing countries, are caused by a lack of micronutrients like vitamins and trace elements. For this reason, nutritional supplements and industrially fortified foods are distributed in many developing and emerging nations. Now scientists are working on ways of fortifying the most important food crops with e.g. provitamin A, zinc and iron. Some of the methods used involve genetic engineering. more
“The pollen quantities that led to higher mortality rates in caterpillars in the laboratory were not detected in the field.”
Can butterflies be harmed by genetically modified Bt maize? This was the question that Mechthild Schuppener from RWTH Aachen University investigated in a three-year research project. She conducted a feeding study in the laboratory to find out how sensitive caterpillars are to Bt maize pollen. In the field, the scientist investigated how much maize pollen lands on butterflies’ food plants under natural conditions and examined where butterfly nests are to be found in farming areas. GMO Safety spoke to Mechthild Schuppener about the findings of her research project. more
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Jenny asks: What is a gene bank?
A visit to the fruit gene bank of the Julius Kühn-Institut in Dresden-Pillnitz
From wild grass to wheat
About einkorn und emmer, spelt und durum wheat and about two revolutions on the way from wild grass to wheat. A visit to the display garden of the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne.
Results: Bt maize and honey bees
Interactive potato field
Results: Field trial with petunias
When new genes are transferred to the plastids instead of the cell nucleus, they are not usually spread via pollen. Scientists at the University of Rostock have tested whether this method is reliable in a field trial with petunias. GMO Safety spoke to Inge Broer about the trial and its results.
Bt maize: Not a problem for earthworms
The results of a research project at RWTH Aachen University are now available.
Interview with four experts:
World population growing, the climate changing and resources diminishing. Agriculture and plant breeding are facing new challenges.