European Parliament: no promotion of genetic technologies in development policy!

On Oct. 6, 2021, the European Parliament, in its plenary session, called on the EU Commission and EU member states, through its report on „The role of development policy in combating biodiversity loss in developing countries in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, „to actively protect the rights of future generations, not to promote genetic technologies with development aid funds and, in particular, not to allow the release of Gene Drive organisms.

Mareike Imken, coordinator of the European Stop Gene Drive campaign, welcomes this resolution:

„Here, for the third time in a row, the European Parliament reinforces its demand not to use Gene Drive technology for precautionary reasons. This demand is also important because the first field trials with the Gene Drive technology are to be implemented in the next few years in Burkina Faso by the Target Malaria project consortium.“ As noble as the goal thus pursued is to fight malaria – it is also important not to take lightly the unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences of cross-border, uncontrollable and irreversible genetic modification or eradication of mosquitoes. I urge the EU Commission and the EU Member States to implement the demands of the European Parliament nationally and internationally!“ said Imken.

In paragraph 32, the European Parliament expands on its demand of June 8, 2021, from the EU Biodiversity Strategy and its resolution of January 16, 2020, on the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity:

„[The European Parliament] determines that gene drive technology, such as in genetically modified mosquitoes to control vector-borne diseases, constitutes serious and emerging threats to the environment and nature, including irreversible changes in food supply chains and ecosystems, and losses of biodiversity – a diversity on which the world’s poorest depend for their livelihoods. Reiterates its concern about the new legal, environmental, biosafety, and governance challenges that could result from the release of organisms modified by Gene Drive into the environment, even if the release is for conservation purposes; Reaffirms that the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities must be obtained before introducing technologies that may affect their traditional knowledge, innovation, habits and livelihoods, as well as land use and resource and water consumption; insists that in doing so, all populations potentially affected must be involved in advance in a participatory manner; Considers that gene drive technologies raise concerns about the difficulties of predicting the behavior of affected organisms and that gene drive modified organisms could themselves become invasive species, and therefore, in accordance with the precautionary principle, the release of gene drive modified organisms should not be permitted, even for the purpose of conservation of nature.“

From Mareike Imken’s point of view, it would be an important further step, also in view of the bad experiences with patented genetically modified seeds in Africa and Latin America, to implement the demand in paragraph 28 of the European Parliament in national development aid programs. In paragraph 28, the European Parliament urges the Commission and Member States to „take into account the Union’s obligations under international conventions and also to ensure that no genetic modification technologies are promoted in developing countries with development aid funds.“

This resolution is a non-binding opinion of the European Parliament with recommendations to the EU Commission and EU Member States for their international cooperation and work in international conventions such as UN CBD, UNEP, FAO and trade agreements. To implement these recommendations, the EU Commission would have to take them up in its own legislative proposal, which would then have to be confirmed by the European Parliament and EU Member States. However, these recommendations could also find their way into less formally agreed negotiating positions of the EU in its international work.


On the resolution: