The amendment to the law on green Genetic Engineering inhibits innovation and research in Germany

07/06/04

DFG presents statement on the German Genetic Engineering Act

This release is also available in German.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) sees the draft amendment to the Genetic Engineering Act as a restriction on innovation and research in Germany. If the amendment were to be passed in its current form it runs the risk, in the opinion of the DFG, of putting German researchers at a considerable disadvantage on the international playing field. This is the key theme of the statement on the law on genetic engineering recently released by the DFG.

The DFG primarily opposes three aspects of the draft amendment. For instance, the draft put forward by the German federal government assumes that a particular risk is automatically attached to the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the opinion of the DFG this assumption is not backed up by experimental data.

The inappropriate risk assessment leads to increased red tape and hampers the transfer of the findings of basic research to economically viable processes and products. The draft amendment also intends to hold users of genetically modified organisms responsible for "intrusion" by GMOs into conventionally or ecologically produced seed. However, it is not possible in principle to prevent such cross breeding of genetically modified organisms. If the liability proposed in the amendment is enforced, research involving genetically modified organisms or their release will barely be possible in Germany any longer.

Thirdly, the DFG is against the planned splitting of the Central Commission for Biological Safety into two committees and the inclusion of members who do not have relevant technical expertise. The DFG does not perceive a need for new boards, new bureaucratic regulations or additional authorities.

The envisaged establishment of a federal register for recording the location of GMOs and registers for each of the 16 states, as well as the long lead times prior to sowing the genetically modified organisms hinder research studies. This makes scientific studies on the topic of "green genetic engineering" difficult, if not impossible. In the opinion of the DFG this applies equally to the accompanying research called for by the EU Directive, which is intended to assist with the collection of empirical data on the introduction of genetically modified organisms.

The DFG calls for decisive changes to be made to the Genetic Engineering Act.

The statement is available in full (in German) from http://www.dfg.de/aktuelles_presse/reden_stellungnahmen/2004/download/gentechnikrecht_0604.pdf

For further information contact: Prof. Jörg Hacker, Department of Molecular Infection Biology, University of Würzburg, Tel.: 49-0-9131/ 31-2575, e-mail: j.hacker@mail.uni-wuerzburg.de.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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