Biotech Updates

Europe's Leading Plant Scientists Call to Stop Blocking GM Trials

November 5, 2014

More than 20 of Europe's most prominent plant scientists signed a joint letter warning that Europe may lose its research lead unless plant science is adequately funded. The most influential plant scientists from Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden are concerned that European basic and applied plant science may be relegated to a second tier status.

The signatories are concerned that Europe may fall short on its current 'Horizon 2020' goals of producing "world-class science" and removing "barriers to innovation" unless European policymakers take a more pro-science stance. The scientists state that the current EU "de facto moratorium on transgenic plant approvals has been detrimental for applied plant science and has effectively eliminated possibilities for publicly funded scientists and small companies to address the big challenges for society."

The open letter calls for a fundamental revision of GM regulation, and warns that "in most European countries permits to perform field experiments with transgenic plants are blocked, not on scientific but on political grounds," and that where field experiments are permitted "these are often systematically vandalized, causing huge scientific and financial losses," hampering scientific efforts to tackle agricultural pests and respond to climate change. They reveal that "some of us have even been threatened and had private property vandalized."

The open letter is available at: For more details, read the news release at: