Berlin, 5, 6 and 7 September 2018
Three mega-mergers on the seed and pesticide market, a new method of genetic engineering that has triggered a global hype, and European debates on insect decline and on banning herbicides such as glyphosate – all good reasons for convening another European Conference of GMO-Free regions.
On 6 and 7 September, representatives of regional governments, food trade and processing, non-governmental organisations, science and agriculture will meet for the 9th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions in Berlin. The undersecretary for the environment of Hesse, who took over the presidency of Europe's 64-government network of GMO-free regions in 2017, invites its members and partners to attend this meeting. She is supported by “Save Our Seeds” as the conference-secretariat for civil society.
Focus on CRISPR-Cas
This time the focus is on the challenges associated with a new method of genetic modification called CRISPR-Cas. Is this method, also known as “gene editing”, safer than previous forms of genetic engineering? Aren’t CRISPR-Cas applications, such as engineering entire populations by means of "gene drives", rather posing new and additional risks?
After the European Court of Justice ruling of July 25 on these issues, what will be the next political and administrative steps of the European and national institutions? Could certain products of genetic engineering still appear neither labelled nor traceable in food or even in the environment as governments in other regions of the world refuse to regulate them? What is the global situation on these issues?
These questions will be discussed in joint debates and workshops. The aim is to clarify technical and scientific aspects, the legal situation, economic impacts on agriculture and the food industry and the political debate in the wake of European elections in spring 2019. Additional topics will include the EU protein strategy and GMO imports as well as the labelling of animal products.
The aim of the conference will be to look for common positions and strategies on key issues of transparency, precautionary environmental protection, agricultural policy and consumer protection. If your government, institution or civil society organisation is engaged in these questions, you should attend this conference.
For more information and to register:
Invitation to the public event on the evening before the GMO-Free Regions conference
The Central Dogma is 60 years old - but has it always been a case of the Emperor's New Clothes?
Public and press event Wednesday 5 September 7–9.30 pm GLS Bank, Schumannstraße 10, 10117 Berlin
• Prof. Ignacio Chapela, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA
• Prof. Jack Heinemann, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
• Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, EcoNexus, Oxford, UK
• Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
• Dr. Sarah Agapito Tenfen, GenØk - Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway Organizers:
• European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility
• GLS Gemeinschaftsbank
• Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft
Since 1972, a huge edifice has grown out of Francis Crick’s 1958 paradigmatic Central Dogma of Molecular Biology, the foundation of the scientific-technical concept of genetic engineering. Yet for all its powerful conceptual and financial consequences, genetic engineering continues to lack truly useful applications, even half a century later. “GE continues to fail to deliver on its enormous promises," said biologist Angelika Hilbeck of ETH-Zurich, Switzerland.
Generations of genetic engineering come and go in accelerating tempo, each time raising greater expectations and untold financial fortunes for savvy speculators, but the cold evidence of reality continues to point to a failure deep in its very structure and foundation. The current wave of enthusiasm for the CRISPR-Cas methods, with its claim to make good on the flawed previous methods, seems to point more to an admission of failure of the last generation of GE than to a true change of paradigm. Yet questioning the Dogma is discouraged, and debates about it run only in intellectual and scientific circles, without the involvement of the public.
In this event, noted international scientists will take a critical look at Crick’s dogmatic paradigm and ask if the genetic engineering venture is a case of the Emperor's New Clothes – no one dares point out that such a supposedly important person is actually naked.
The talks and discussion will be held in English. This event is intended for journalists and a public audience.
Participation is free of charge, but please register at https://veranstaltungen.gls.de/index.php?page=event-code&code=FVAVD9KDGE-EN (English – scroll down to the form and register as a "Gast" (guest))
or https://veranstaltungen.gls.de/index.php?page=event-code&code=FVAVD9KDGE-DE (German)