Fbae Logo
Home | | Support Us | Contact Us
Goals & Objectives Our Position False Propaganda Special Topics Important Publications Important Links Events news Biosafety
Fbae Header Home




German Universities Bow to Public Pressure Over GM Crops

Plug is pulled on maize research.

Scientists have decried the decision by two German universities to pull the plug on field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, calling it a “disgraceful” interference with scientists' freedom to research.

“I am not happy at all with this decision,” says Stefan Hormuth, president of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Hesse.

“Unfortunately, we were no longer able to deal with the massive opposition from politicians and the general public. The university has a reputation in the region that we cannot risk losing.”

Andreas Schier had to stop his field trials of GM maize.

Last month, the university announced that it would stop its planned cultivation of insect-resistant GM maize in nearby Gross-Gerau after activists occupied the 1,500-square-metre field.

Another local field trial of GM maize, in Rauischholzhausen, was also stopped because of massive protests from the public and local politicians. Both trials had been approved by the national consumer protection and food safety body (BVL) and were to be conducted on behalf of Germany's authority for agriculture variety and seed affairs.

Earlier in April, the rector and external advisory board of Nürtingen-Geislingen University in Baden-Württemberg “urgently recommended” that a faculty member stop his field trials on insect-resistant and fungal-resistant GM maize. The experiments, which were also approved by the BVL, had been going on since 1996. “We have always been very critical of this kind of research,” says economist Werner Ziegler, the university's rector. “Lately things got out of control. There were e-mail attacks, vandalism, intimidation and personal threats. People started calling us 'Monsanto University'.”

The final straw, Ziegler says, was when the local population brought food and blankets to activists occupying the university's Oberboihingen test site. Local media and supporters hailed the illegal action as a brave act of civil inconvenience.

The university's experiments were led by Andreas Schier, who studies fungal toxins in maize. Although legally the university could not have forced him to stop the field trials, he says he eventually gave in because the pressure on him had become too great. “Scientifically, there was no reason whatsoever to discontinue the experiments,” Schier says. “But scientific arguments don't count in a climate of mass hysteria.”

Schier claims that Ziegler and members of the advisory board threatened to publicly distance themselves from him and his research if he were to continue. “I couldn't stand the pressure any more,” he says.

The incidents reveal a new level of public hostility to plant genetic engineering in Germany, says Heinz Saedler, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, which this year is not cultivating GM crops either. “It is a very sad thing that some universities here haven't got the backbone to withstand illegal activism and public pressure,” he says. “I honestly don't have much hope left for the future of academic research on GM crops in Germany.”

“If it is indeed true that universities in Germany hinder faculty members from doing field research on GM crops for fear of being vandalized by anti-GM activists, then this is disgraceful,” says Vivian Moses, a visiting professor of biotechnology at King's College London.


Related News Articles

Bt-corn does not harm biodiversity

Countering insect resistance with designer Bt toxins

ICGEB receives grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen and expand biosafety systems in sub-Saharan Africa

Policy on the transfer of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) from Asia to Africa by the WorldFish Center

Rules on marketing GM produce face review

EU ministers to debate Bayer's GM cotton, soybeans

EU's legal labyrinth of GMO legislation


The latest issue of Plant Physiology (July 2008; Volume 147, Issue 3) has a special section on next generation of biotech crops especially on nutritional improvement.  These papers can
be downloaded free!

Influence of Transgenosis on the Plant-Insect- Relationships, in Particular on Chemically       Mediated Interactions

Effect of Transgenes Conferring Enhanced Pathogen Resistance on the Interaction with Symbiotic        Fungi in Rice

Impact on the Soil Ecosystem through Natural and Genetically Engineered Organisms:
      Effects, Methods and Definition of Damage as Contribution to Risk Assessment

The Decomposition of Bt-Corn on the Fields and its Impact on Earthworms and on other        Macroorganisms in the Soil

Environmental Post-market Monitoring of Bt-maize:
       Approaches to Detect Potential Effects on Butterflies and Natural Enemies

Columns by Dan Gardner

Against the Grains: 'The Terminator Hoax '

Decisions taken in the 84th Meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee

Brazilian Health Biotech: Fostering Crosstalk Between Public and Private Sectors

Biotechnology Related Article Appeared on 'Samyukta Karnataka' ( Regional Language )
June 12, 2008.

Nothing Left to the Imagination

The Politics of GM Food
Kirit S Javali

Hi-tech seed factories: Sowing Seeds of Success

"Indian Seed Industry is Well Placed to Serve Both Domestic and International Markets"
Dr MK Sharma,
Managing Director,
Mahyco Monsanto

"If we Facilitate Seed Industry, we Facilitate Growth in Agriculture"
Dr Govind Garg,
Krishidhan Seeds

Metagenomics: Window to the Microbial Universe

Few Checks to Prevent Entry of GM Food

Gene Campaign Criticises India’s ‘Silence’ at Global Bio-Safety Meet

An Enforceable International Compact for Infectious Diseases

"Indian Science in Genomics has been Able to Place Itself on the Global Map"

Indian Gene Decoded

The Development of RNAi as a Therapeutic Strategy

FAO E-Conference on Biotechnologies and Water Scarcity

Genetic Landscape

Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture

RH Nature Reviews Genetics 08- Opposition to Transgenic Technologies

Germany: Discussion Paper of German Ag-Industry about EU Biotech Policy Implications

Bt maize performance in Spain

Arsenic speciation varies with type of rice

Why I Am Bothered by Neo-Colonialist NGOs

China experts identify gene for yield, height in rice

The French government has called for a debate on the review of the EU
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has also repeatedly criticised the EU for "undue delays" in the authorisation of GMOs. See the latest WTO ruling:

The legal bans are in France, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Greece.

EU delays decision on approving more GM crops

UCR Geneticist Plays Scientific Advisor to Movie about “Love, Adventure and ... Genetically Modified Rice”

Gujrat worst-hit by illegal Bt cotton production

Farmers seek ban on GM crops

Call for policing
Ijaz Ahmed Rao discusses the virtues of a bio-safety framework for genetically modified crops, now that they have become farmers’ favourite

Stem cells: The 3-billion-dollar question

Genes as the solution

Food crisis spurs research spending

Global Food Crisis / UN / Bilingual Transcript of Statements by Secretary-General, Heads of Concerned Agencies, and Response to Questions at Press Conference on Global Food CrisisGM Crops, A World View

Mass Protests against GM Crops in IndiaInterference at the EPA

Open letter to Robert B. Zoellick, President, World BankNew BT variety may push short staple cotton output.

The future of agricultural biotechnology: Creative, destruction, adoption, or irrelevance? ICABR Conference 2008

Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.

Prof. Kameswara Rao and Dr. T.M. Manjunath's Participation in 2008 Biotech Activities

Scrutinizing Industry-Funded Science: The Crusade Against Conflicts of Interest

LEADER: Nurturing nanotech

Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development

Scientists find potential schistosomiasis treatment

Islamic conference boosts S&T with new resolutions

Mexico publishes GM approval guidelines

Uganda 'close to stamping out Hib meningitis'

New method 'prevents spread of GM plants'

Social factors 'help women with post-tsunami stress'

Women scientists celebrated in new charter

Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 13–25 March

Brazil creates US$18 million fund for young scientists

Health weeks 'powerful tools' for deworming children

Rotavirus vaccine, not treatment, 'cheaper for Panama'