GENET archive


6-Regulations: New German genetic engineering law and reactions

                                  PART I
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TITLE:  Green Biotechnology Possibly Facing an End
SOURCE: Agence France Press / Tagesspiegel, Germany
        translated by NLP Wessex, UK
DATE:   2 Jul 2004

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Green Biotechnology Possibly Facing an End

Berlin (AFP) - The refusal of German insurers to underwrite insurance for
farmers planting biotech seed may have brought Green Biotechnology in
Germany to an end. As the newspaper Tagesspiegel reports, seed suppliers
are not willing to assume liability for possible damages caused by
genetically modified plants either.

A proposal in this direction by the German Farmers' Association was
turned down by Germany's largest seed supplier KWS Saat. According to
opinions in the industry, this means that no German farmer is likely to
use genetically modified seed in the foreseeable future.

Fearing unpredictable damages resulting from the contamination of
conventional or organic crops by gene plants, the Association of the
German Insurance Industry has refused coverage for gene farmers.

As a consequence, the German Farmers' Association has demanded that
suppliers of genetically modified seed assume liability for possible
damages and keep farmers free of it. Since cross-contamination cannot be
avoided, "we will not run a risk", says KWS Saat spokesman Georg
Folttmann. In light of the stringent liability regulations in Germany
"nobody will plant genetically modified plants in Germany".


Grüne Gentechnik steht möglicherweise vor dem Aus

Berlin (AFP) - Nach der Weigerung der deutschen Versicherer, Landwirte
mit Gen-Anbau zu versichern, steht die grüne Gentechnik in Deutschland
möglicherweise vor dem Aus. Wie der "Tagesspiegel" berichtete, sind auch
die Saatgutfirmen nicht bereit, Verantwortung für mögliche Schäden durch
gentechnisch veränderte Pflanzen zu übernehmen.

Einen entsprechenden Vorstoß des Deutschen Bauernverbandes lehnte der
größte deutsche Saatguthersteller KWS Saat ab. Damit dürfte nach
Einschätzung der Branche kein Bauer in Deutschland auf absehbare Zeit
gentechnisch verändertes Saatgut verwenden.

Aus Angst vor unvorhersehbaren Schäden, die durch eine Verunreinigung
konventioneller oder ökologischer Ernten durch Gen-Pflanzen entstehen
könnten, hatte der Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft
einen Versicherungsschutz für Gen-Bauern abgelehnt.

Der Deutsche Bauernverband hatte daraufhin gefordert, dass die Hersteller
von gentechnisch verändertem Saatgut die Verantwortung für mögliche
Schäden übernehmen und die Landwirte von der Haftung freistellen. Da sich
die Auskreuzung jedoch nicht vermeiden lasse, "werden wir kein Risiko
eingehen", sagte KWS Saat-Sprecher Georg Folttmann. Angesichts der
strengen Haftungsregelungen in Deutschland werde "niemand gentechnisch
veränderte Pflanzen in Deutschland anbauen".

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  New German genetic engineering law and reactions
SOURCE: Bio-Markt.Info, Germany,45,,31,33,,44,,_n191__
DATE:   2 Jul 2004

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New German genetic engineering law and reactions

Consumer Minister Renate Kuenast praised the genetic engineering law
passed by the German Parliament on 18.06.2004 as a success for consumer
protection and for farmers who want to cultivate gmo-free. "Germany is
one of the first EU countries to create a legal framework for the
protection of gmo-free agriculture", said Kuenast. The parliamentary
parties of the social democrats and greens had decided to change the bill
for a new genetic engineering law from a bill requiring approval into one
not needing approval. "We were in a hurry", explained the minister.
"After the EU Commission cancelled the de facto moratorium on the gmo
issue in the EU, we urgently needed regulations to protect gmo-free
agriculture against considerable impairments through cross-breeding,
additions and other gmo access. This is exactly what the new genetic
engineering law does".

Fundamental elements of the law:

- Protection of gmo-free agriculture: organic farms and gmo-free
conventional farms are protected against insidious dominance of gmo

- Regulation of liability: farmers that use genetic engineering are
liable jointly and severally for gmo pollution in gmo-free farms,
irrespective of fault.

- Location register: public federal register with detailed information
about land plots on which gmo are cultivated.

- Extended retention period: for security reasons the data must be saved
up to 15 years.

- Protection of ecologically sensitive zones: the change of the federal
environmental law (§ 34 a) allows the direct intervention of the nature
protection authorities in order to guarantee the protection of
ecologically sensitive zones against gmo pollution.

- Conduct regulation: the Federal Office for Nature Protection (BfN), the
Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Office for Consumer
Protection and Groceries Security (BVL) are to be involved in the issue
and release of genetically modified organisms. If there is any dissent
between the authorities involved, the Federal Consumer Protection
Ministry can clarify through briefing.

- Good professional practice: current demands were embodied: minimum
distances, documentation duties, rules for the use of gmo fertilizers.

- Product information duty: gmo merchandisers are bound to inform about
compliance with the demands of good professional practice by means of an
instruction leaflet. They are liable for incorrect product information.

Federation of the Organic Food Industry (BOeLW) welcomes the new law

The changes in transparency and liability meet important BOeLW demands
for the genetic engineering law.

BOeLW chairman Dr. Felix Prinz zu Loewenstein is satisfied with the
result: "We think it is especially important that the liability for
damage caused by cross-breeding and mixing are clearly assigned to the
causers: genetic engineering users". The German genetic engineering law
acts as a signal for other European countries, continues LOewenstein.

BOeLW also welcomes the regulation that gmo issuers will be liable: "It
must be obvious that persons who use genetic engineering for the purpose
of earning money have to be liable for potential damage", said Dr.
Alexander Gerber, manager of BOeLW. The nationwide, public federal
register with detailed information about the plots of land where gmo is
cultivated fulfils another important BOELW demand.

By contrast, the German Farmers Association (DBV) criticized the decision
of the German Parliament. "The security of coexistence is not achieved,
so the DBV would advise all farmers not to cultivate genetically modified
plants", states a DBV press report.

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Law 'may stifle German science'
SOURCE: The Scientist,  by Ned Stafford
DATE:   28 Jun 2004

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Law 'may stifle German science'
Research group says GM law, applauded by environmentalists, will trigger
scientific exodus

A new law passed by Germany's parliament that strictly regulates modified
(GM) crops [GENET/HM: this law regulates all GMOs] will almost certainly
stifle innovation and trigger an exodus of GM scientific research from
Germany, according to a top official of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The new legislation comes after a spring planting season filled with
increasingly public-and contentious-skirmishes between Germany's robust
environmental movement and frustrated scientists over the issue of GM
crops. The new law had the strong support of German Agriculture Minister
Renate Kuenast, a member of the environmentally friendly Green Party,
which is the junior governing coalition partner of Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder's SPD Party.

Kuenast described passage of the bill as a success for consumer
protection and the rights of non-GM farmers who fear crop contamination
from adjacent GM fields.

Joerg Hinrich Hacker, vice president of the DFG, told The Scientist that
particularly worrisome for researchers are sections of the new law
dealing with liability and penalties to planters of GM crops.

Under the new law, planters of GM crops that are found to contaminate
adjacent non-GM fields can be held liable for damages even if they
followed planting instructions and other regulations. Furthermore, the
new rules removed reference to an acceptable threshold for GM pollen
contamination. Hacker said this will allow non-GM farmers with even trace
levels of GM pollen to seek monetary reimbursement if they can prove the
contamination decreased the market value of their crops.

Because of the new law, some German universities and other research
organizations involved in GM research will not want to take the financial
risk, said Hacker, who also is head of the Institute for Molecular
Infection Biology at the University of Wuerzburg.

"Science in the field of molecular biology... will become weaker in
Germany," Hacker said. "Some of this experimental science will go to
foreign countries."

The new law also will create bureaucracy that will hinder GM research,
Hacker said. For example, under the new rules, GM researchers who
previously needed to deal with only one authority will now have to gain
approval from two authorities, one for contamination/location issues, and
one for release issues.

The legislation also requires GM planters to seek regulatory approval at
least 3 months in advance of planting, which Hacker believes in practice
will result in waits of at least 6 months for approval. Such delays could
be crippling for some scientists, who he said are working under intense
competition and/or working with foreign colleagues.

"If scientists cannot proceed [with the next round of experiments], then
they are not working in an ideal situation," Hacker said.

The new law requires planters of GM crops to provide a central public
register with exact location of fields and other pertinent information.
The information would be available over the Internet.

Earlier this year, anti-GM activists destroyed GM wheat fields. A few
weeks later, concerns about destruction prompted researchers in one
project to plant nearly 30 GM cornfields in secret locations.

Hacker appeared ambivalent about the central public register, at first
saying that he can understand the need to make the exact location of
fields public. But when pressed whether the DFG supported creation of the
central public register, he said: "No. I cannot say so."

Hacker added: "From my point of view, we have to convince the GMO
activists not to destroy, not to commit illegal acts." Until that time
comes, he conceded that researchers will have increase security for GM fields.

Henning Strodthoff, gene technology expert at Greenpeace in Hamburg, told
The Scientist that Greenpeace strongly supports the public register,
adding that it simply brings Germany in compliance with EU Directive
2001/18, which requires registration of GM fields.

Strodthoff described other aspects of the law as "progress," saying it
will improve transparency, minimize potential GM contamination, and
increase liability for planters of GM crops.

"If GM crops are allowed, then we need strong regulations," Strodthoff
said. When asked what Greenpeace would prefer in a GM planting law, he
said: "Our goal is to stop GM planting. We want GM planting to be forbidden."

Links for this article
Joerg Hinrich Hacker

N. Stafford, "German GM wheat trials continue," The Scientist, April 13, 2004.

N. Stafford, "GM crop sites stay secret," The Scientist, May 28, 2004.

Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12
March 2001 on the Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically
Modified Organisms and Repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC!celexapi!pro d!

Greenpeace Germany

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