Expert panel in the "Bundestag" - New GMOs: Use detection methods, ensure GMO free food and feed!

- „New GMOs" are also GMOs, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) clarified in 2018. In order to ensure that no illegal GMO-plants enter our food and feed it is necessary to use reliable detection methods. This was the topic of an expert panel with representatives of authorities and other experts in the German Parliament on 22 Feb 2021.

German Bundestag, Photo © Simone M. Neumann

Almost half a year ago, VLOG, together with Greenpeace and other organizations, presented the first freely available detection method for a "New GMO" plant. Today, an expert panel on this topic is taking place in the Bundestag. VLOG managing director Alexander Hissting explains:

"It is good that this important topic is being discussed in the Bundestag. We are pleased about the exchange of renowned experts on detection methods for plants resulting from 'new genetic engineering' and hope that it will spur the use of these tests. It is high time that the new detection method for Cibus’ 'Gene Editing' canola has at last become part of the routine GMO monitoring by the German Länder. This is the only way to ensure that this illegal GMO plant does not find its way into our food and feed. This is essential for consumers and the entire food industry - especially for the Non GMO ("Ohne Gentechnik") and organic sector.

Since at least the ruling of the European Court of Justice in 2018, it has become clear that the same rules apply to 'New GMOs' as to 'Old GMOs'. However, these can only be monitored and enforced if the products can also be detected. Since authorities had failed to do so, together with several partners, VLOG presented the first open-source detection method in September 2020. This method is suitable for the first 'gene editing' plant of any market impact, a canola line by U.S. supplier Cibus.

This detection method has been validated by the Austrian Federal Environment Agency and has since been found to be functional by the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) and the European Network of Genetic Engineering Laboratories (ENGL). GMO law expert Dr. Georg Buchholz has elaborated clearly that the method meets EU requirements for detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has once again clarified that Cibus canola is clearly a GMO.

Several renowned specialist laboratories in Germany and Austria already offer the Cibus detection method. The VLOG and the Austrian ARGE Gentechnik-frei already use it in the context of their quality monitoring – fortunately without any complaints so far. So there is no reason left that speaks against using the Cibus-related test in the regular GMO monitoring of the authorities!
Functioning detection methods for products of the 'New GMO' processes are also a strong argument for the future regulation of such GMOs. The debate on the regulation of 'New GMO' is likely to flare up again at the latest when the EU Commission presents its study on the issue in April 2021, - and is also likely to result in concrete legislation."

Background and further information

Online expert discussion of the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag: "Detection of new genetic engineering plants - You can only see what you know" on 24 February 2021

World's first open-source detection method for plant from new genetic engineering developed

Agriculture secretary welcomes first detection method for Cibus canola

Detecting Gene-Edited Food: The EU’s Nightmare (In this article: EFSA confirms GMO status of Cibus canola)

Evaluation of Cibus canola detection based on false legal assumptions

Producer of "gene-edited" canola must provide reference material

Briefing „GMO Status of Cibus SU Canola”

Nano (3Sat): "Genome-edited or not?"