Authority apparently informed U.S. GMO manufacturer about VLOG "campaign"

- The German Federal Agency of Consumer Protection and Food Safety [Deutsches Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit – BVL], responsible, among other topics, for genetic engineering checks in food and feed, informed the U.S. GM seed company Cibus in April about an alleged "new campaign" by the Association Food without Genetic Engineering [Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik – VLOG], according to a report of German news magazine DER SPIEGEL.

Photo: BVL

According to this report, the BVL had been in contact for years with the manufacturer of the Cibus GMO canola and, in September 2020, also pointed out to the company the new detection method for this plant, which had been presented by VLOG and other organizations. According to DER SPIEGEL, the German government agency then asked the U.S. company if it "agreed" to publish its own research on the matter.

BVL should now provide clarity and disclose all communication

This unusual episode raises a number of questions: "The BVL should now provide clarity and disclose all communication with Cibus, as well as explain its background, intention and underlying facts. The report gives the impression of an awkward closeness between the genetic engineering company and a German government authority actually responsible for consumer protection and the safety of genetic engineering. I can think of no plausible reason why such an authority should inform a manufacturer of an allegedly upcoming 'campaign' of a German industry association," says VLOG managing director Alexander Hissting. In any case, it is unclear what the BVL actually meant to indicate by this and where this false information came from. In April, there was no special 'campaign' by VLOG.

Paradox: BMEL authority "warns" genetic engineering manufacturer about the BMEL "Ohne GenTechnik" seal

"The fact that an agency reporting to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture 'warns', so to speak, a manufacturer of GMO products about the very association that awards the 'Ohne GenTechnik' seal on behalf of the same ministry is more than paradoxical," says Alexander Hissting. The "Ohne GenTechnik" seal was launched in 2009 by Ilse Aigner (CSU), then predecessor in office of the current Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner (CDU). VLOG was then commissioned with the practical implementation of the seal licensing. To this day, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture [Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft – BMEL] is the holder of the seal rights.

UPDATE 22.09.2021: BVL statements leave questions to be answered

The BVL has meanwhile reacted to the DER SPIEGEL report with an online release and a direct reply to the VLOG. However, questions remain unanswered, especially the central one: why is an official German authority exchanging information with a U.S. genetic engineering producer about alleged "campaigns" by VLOG?

DER SPIEGEL: Consumer protection authority informs US biotech company about genetic engineering opponents (in German)