CRISPR plants reveal the complex risks of genome editing
6. September 2021 / Genetically engineered (GE) wheat with a supposedly reduced concentration of acrylamide after baking is to be tested in field trials in the UK. Scientists there have successfully used CRISPR/Cas to block a gene function involved in production of the amino acid asparagine, which is important for the concentration of acrylamide after baking. However, asparagine is also involved in seed germination, the growth of the plants, their stress responses and disease defences. As scientific publications show, the risks are complex and need to be assessed in detail.
International conference to discuss nature conservation and Synthetic Biology
1 September 2021 / Prior to an upcoming conference being held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Testbiotech is warning of the environmental risks of genetically engineering populations of natural species. Against the backdrop of climate change, the release of genetically engineered bees, corals or trees may appear to provide easy short-term solutions. However, in the long-term, these technical interventions may make species and ecosystems even more vulnerable to diseases and environmental stress.
EU Commission takes controversial decision during the summer break
22 August 2021 / The EU Commission has rushed through ten approvals for the import of genetically engineered (GE) plants. The approvals were issued for maize, soybeans, oilseed rape and cotton, which produce insecticidal toxins and/or are engineered to be resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate; the approvals include seven new variants of GE plants and three renewals. The applications were filed by Monsanto (Bayer), Dow AgroSciences (Corteva) and Syngenta (ChemChina).
Molecules acting on gene regulation are exchanged across species’ borders
18 August 2021 / A new scientific publication shows that honey bees can take up specific RNA molecules produced by plants via their gut, and that these molecules could interfere with gene regulation in the pollinators. The research looked at so-called miRNAs produced in the pollen of sunflowers and Sidr (Ziziphus spina-christi). The miRNA was found inside intestinal cells and could influence several gene functions that are, for example, linked to exploratory behaviour and development of the larvae.