European Parliament calls for a Global Gene Drive Moratorium

At its plenary session on January 16, 2020, the European Parliament defined its position for the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Biodiversity Convention (COP 15 CBD). In their resolution, MEPs call on the EU to support a global moratorium on gene drives in the international negotiations of the CBD. In a joint letter, an EU-wide alliance of more than 50 NGOs, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Europe and IFOAM EU, had previously called on MEPs to vote for such amendments.

The next Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the CBD  in China could be one of the last moments to stop planned releases of gene drive mosquitoes by the Target Malaria project. A release of gene drive organisms would cause an uncontrollable spread of the genetically modified organisms in an unprecedented manner – and result in a global spread and irreversible change or damage to ecosystems. Once released, there is currently no way to remove gene drive organisms from the wild or to reverse changes and damage to ecosystems, food webs and biodiversity. Hence, such a release is contrary to the precautionary principle. This principle was created by the CBD specifically to protect biodiversity and forms the basis of both European and German nature conservation law.