Statement on the Draft Amendment of the Genetic Engineering Law


The current draft of a Fourth Law on the Amendment of the Genetic Engineering Law and the draft of a regulation on good professional practice in the cultivation of genetically modified plants (Regulation on Genetic Engineering in Plant Cultivation) fail to achieve both the purpose of the law as well as the government’s aim. The latter envisages that “research and the use of genetic engineering be promoted in Germany”. A de facto ban on the use of innovative technology in Germany, which could make a valuable contribution to securing the future of our country, is concealed by the phrases “freedom of choice” and “coexistence”.
The economic association of the biotechnology branch, the Biotechnology Industry Organisation of Germany (BIO Deutschland) therefore demands the following in the forthcoming amendment:

  • Adaptation of the entitlement and liability regulations in order to increase legal certainty for all users, companies, farmers and third parties such as beekeepers.
  • Protection of farmers and researchers from criminal acts by keeping the location of fields of plants cultivated by biotechnological methods confidential and making this location known only to enquirers with a proven justified interest.
  • Extension of the concept of “disposal” to take into account the designated use of the harvest in following official orders to break up fields or destroy crops.
  • The complete or partial removal of work with genetically modified organisms that are not micro-organisms and are safe for human health and the environment, such as moss, from the regulations of this law.

In addition, BIO Deutschland asks for support from politicians when the economy in Brussels is urging the design of a positive list of safe micro-organisms, in order to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and costs in the industrial biotechnology sector in the member states.

BIO Deutschland demands the following for the regulation on good professional practice in the cultivation of genetically modified plants:

  • That private arrangements between neighbours not only be permitted but that these agreements be left in the private sphere in order to keep the bureaucracy and costs for the cultivation of genetically modified plants at a financially viable level.
  • That the distance between cornfields be set at a maximum of 150 metres and that it is arranged that this distance be regularly amended in accordance with the latest scientific research findings

The regulation of 150 metres was already made in order to safely attain a level of significantly less than the threshold value of 0.9% in the cross-pollination with neighbouring fields. BIO Deutschland strongly rejects the arbitrary doubling of the 150-metre distance between GM and conventional fields to 300 metres for organically farmed fields. This makes no scientific sense. Moreover, the threshold value of 0.9% also applies to organically cultivated crops. This threshold value alone, and not the subjective commercial interests of organic farmers, is relevant for the conduct obligations of GM farmers. 150 metres are more than sufficient to maintain the threshold value of 0.9%.

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