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 October 2020.
In a joint letter, an EU-wide alliance of more than 50 NGOs, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Europe and IFOAM EU, has previously called on MEPs to vote for such amendments.
The next Conference of the Parties to the CBD in October 2020 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.
Save Our Seeds argued for the introduction of these amendments in the European Parliament in 2019, and, as part of a strong alliance of German NGOs, foundations and experts, backed the demands of the letter and supported the amendments that have now been adopted:

  • Prevent the release of gene drive organisms into the wild.
  • Support the application and legal strengthening of the precautionary principle in the new UN Framework Convention on Biological Diversity to be created after 2020.
  • Require preventive technology assessment, technology foresight (horizon scanning) and monitoring for new technologies such as gene drives.
  • Ensure respect for the rights of prior informed consent of local communities and indigenous peoples to the use of high-risk technologies in their environment.