Destruction of public and governmental experiments of GMO in Europe

Laboratory Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale (CEA/CNRS/INRA/Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble)
GM crops & food 10/2012; 3(4):258-64. DOI: 10.4161/gmcr.21231
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this article is to compile the destruction of GMO trials from academic or governmental research institutes in Europe, in a factual manner and to highlight their main characteristics. About 80 acts of vandalism against academic or governmental research on GMOs are identified, mainly in 4 countries; namely France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Examples are also provided for Italy and Belgium. The general conclusions that can be drawn from these acts are also discussed.

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Available from: Marcel Kuntz,
    • "Field trials declined sharply in the EU from 2000 (Marshall, 2014) as a consequence of vandalism (Kuntz, 2012) and other political or social pressures. Therefore, field trials in Europe do not perfectly reflect current breeding programs as they may be performed elsewhere. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Most of the genetically modified (GM) plants currently commercialized encompass a handful of crop species (soybean, corn, cotton and canola) with agronomic characters (traits) directed against some biotic stresses (pest resistance, herbicide tolerance or both) and created by multinational companies. The same crops with agronomic traits already on the market today will continue to be commercialized, but there will be also a wider range of species with combined traits. The timeframe anticipated for market release of the next biotech plants will not only depend on science progress in research and development (R&D) in laboratories and fields, but also primarily on how demanding regulatory requirements are in countries where marketing approvals are pending. Regulatory constraints, including environmental and health impact assessments, have increased significantly in the past decades, delaying approvals and increasing their costs. This has sometimes discouraged public research entities and small and medium size plant breeding companies from using biotechnology and given preference to other technologies, not as stringently regulated. Nevertheless, R&D programs are flourishing in developing countries, boosted by the necessity to meet the global challenges that are food security of a booming world population while mitigating climate change impacts. Biotechnology is an instrument at the service of these imperatives and a wide variety of plants are currently tested for their high yield despite biotic and abiotic stresses. Many plants with higher water or nitrogen use efficiency, tolerant to cold, salinity or water submergence are being developed. Food security is not only a question of quantity but also of quality of agricultural and food products, to be available and accessible for the ones who need it the most. Many biotech plants (especially staple food) are therefore being developed with nutritional traits, such as biofortification in vitamins and metals. The main international seed companies continue to be the largest investors in plant biotechnology R&D, and often collaborate in the developing world with public institutions, private entities and philanthropic organizations. These partnerships are particularly present in Africa. In developed countries, plant biotechnology is also used for non-food purposes, such as the pharmaceutical, biofuel, starch, paper and textile industries. For example, plants are modified to specifically produce molecules with therapeutic uses, or with an improved biomass conversion efficiency, or producing larger volumes of feedstocks for biofuels. Various plant breeding technologies are now used in the entire spectrum of plant biotechnology: transgenesis producing proteins or RNAi. Cisgenesis (transgenes isolated from a crossable donor plant) and intragenesis (transgenes originate from the same species or a crossable species), null segregants are also used. To date, the next generation precision gene editing tools are developed in basic research. They include: clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR), oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM), transcription activator-like effects nucleases (TALENs) and zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN).
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    • "What is unique for TILLING as a functional genomics strategy compared with transgenic approaches, such as T‐DNA, transposon insertion and anti‐sense or RNAi is the identification of numerous mutations within a target region of the genome without the need for genetic transformation. TILLING can also be applied to any species, regardless of its genome size and ploidy level (Jeon et al. 2000; Weigel et al. 2000; Alonso et al. 2003; Hsing et al. 2007; Parry et al. 2009; Kuntz 2012). Furthermore, its relatively easy operation and being less time consuming also make TILLING popular in gene functional studies and there have been many successful examples to date. "
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    ABSTRACT: Food security is a global concern and substantial yield increases in crops are required to feed the growing world population. Mutagenesis is an important tool in crop improvement and is free of the regulatory restrictions imposed on genetically modified organisms. TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes), which combines traditional chemical mutagenesis with high-throughput genome-wide screening for point mutations in desired genes, offers a powerful way to create novel mutant alleles for both functional genomics and improvement of crops. TILLING is generally applicable to genomes whether small or large, diploid or even allohexaploid, and shows great potential to address the major challenge of linking sequence information to the function of genes and to modulate key traits for plant breeding. TILLING has been successfully applied in many crop species and recent progress in TILLING is summarized below, especially on the developments in mutation detection technology, application of TILLING in gene functional studies and crop breeding. The potential of TILLING/EcoTILLING for functional genetics and crop improvement is also discussed. Furthermore, a small scale forward strategy including backcross and selfing was conducted to release the potential mutant phenotypes masked in M2 (or M3 ) plants.
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    • "Five years ago, such Bt maize was also grown in France, Germany and Romania, but these countries no longer do so, principally as a consequence of political policy driven, in part, by small-scale but concerted public opposition often involving 'direct action'. For example, a recent analysis identified at least 80 acts of vandalism against public sector GM field trials in Europe (Kuntz, 2012). These were mainly in France, Germany, the UK and Switzerland, and included the destruction of a trial of GM vines at the INRA centre in Colmar with damage estimated at €1.2 million. "

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