[img_assist|nid=256|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]20 years of research and about 25 Million Euros later and an Australian company developed a transgenic blue rose. Is that really why we need genetic engineering?

[img_assist|nid=222|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=43]A growing demand for fuel is likely to lead to the development of genetically modified (GM) crops that can be used as commodities for agrofuels. Market pressure could lead to an acceptance of lower regulatory standards for their risk assessment and conditions for cultivation. Contamination of food and feed crops with non-edible GM agrofuel crops can threaten food safety and food security.

A. Lorch, Conference proceedings from Implications of GM-Crop Cultivation at Large Spatial Scales (GMLS), April 2008.

In the beginning everything was simple. Bt maize was supposed to be just on the field, and nothing else would be affected: No organism that wasn't on the field, no organisms that would prey on maize pests. But over the years things became more complicated and now it's common knowledge that parts of the Bt plants make it off the field themselves, that predators can be affected indirectly in the food web. And still the question whether the field crop maize could also water organisms seems to be one step too far for most risk assessments.

[img_assist|nid=247|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]In 2007, the GM potato Amflora was cultivated on nearly 450 ha in Germany. The goal of the “field trial” as to produce seed potatoes just in case Amflora would be allowed for commercial cultivation. But another result now becomes quite obvious: GM potatoes cannot be kept under control and they cannot be cleared off the field completely. In summer 2008, despite repeated controls Amflora potatoes are happily growing on the field.

[img_assist|nid=239|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]On 8 September, the EU Commission allowed the import of a new GM soy event that so far is mainly grown in the US. This does not only open the way for new GM soy in animal feed but it might also work as an incentive to allow its cultivation in South American countries because they now don't have to worry that soy contaminated with this event could not be exported to Europe.

[img_assist|nid=248|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]The EFSA regularly states that volunteers from maize plants would not be a problem because the seeds wouldn't survive the winter etc. However even Monsanto found GM maize volunteers on their own test fields in Borken, in the North of Germany in 2007.
Cycling through the South of Hungary in September 2008, I found these single maize plants in the middle of a potato field.

[img_assist|nid=236|title=Maize volunteers|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=200|height=117]

[img_assist|nid=245|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43] In July 2008, BASF filed a case with the European Court in Luxembourg stating that the European Commission failed to act on the approval of Amflora.
In September 2008, the company followed this by the threat that BASF would stop its development of GM crops in Europe unless the approval would be given soon.

[img_assist|nid=216|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]The production of agrofuel crops and its effects on biodiversity and livelyhoods were a highly contested issue during COP9 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn in May 2008. Numerous sessions took place, often till late in the evening and a final compromise was only found around 1:30 in the night in a closed meeting between a few countries.

[img_assist|nid=108|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]South Africa’s Agriculture and Research Council (ARC) has announced their intention to apply to the SA government for permission to make GM potatoes commercially available, The potato in question is a Bt potato carrying the antibiotic resistance gene nptII as a marker - the same antibiotic resistance gene that currently holds up the approval procedure of BASF's starch potato Amflora in Europe.

[img_assist|nid=203|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) responsible for the environmental risk assessment of GMOs - or more accurately: reponsible for reading the papers submitted by companies who want to import or cultivate their GM crops in the EU - invites comments on its updated Guidance Document of the Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)for the risk assessment of genetically modified plants and derived food and feed.


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