GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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Stakeholder input wanted: survey on research needs for assessing GMO impacts 

Shaping the Future of GMO Research

Stakeholder with interests in the risk and/or benefit assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are invited to take part in an online survey.

The aim of this survey is to identify which research needs should be prioritised, thereby contributing to the commissioning of research on the health, environment and economic impacts of GMOs.

The survey will close on 15th July 2015.

More information and access to the online survey

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Fruit and Vegetables

Grapes and Wine

In the middle of the 19th century, many new fungal diseases appeared in Europe. Traditional vine varieties became particularly vulnerable to these new diseases. Genetic engineering offers some new possibilities for developing disease resistant varieties. Immediate success, however, is unrealistic.

Fungal diseases like grey mould, powdery mildew, and downy mildew are major problems in many of Europe's wine regions. They not only cause losses in yield, they also reduce wine quality. Cloudy and persistent fungal residues are a serious problem in the wine cellar.

The intensive use of fungicides is still common in many vineyards. When infection is widespread, winegrowers may spray up to eight times per year. Even organic farmers can't forgo treatments against fungal disease. They often spray with copper solutions, which pollute soil with heavy metals. Newer, but less effective methods include clay preparations and plant extracts.

Bild vergrößern

Bild vergrößern

Young, genetically modified grapevines in a greenhouse.
Plant breeders have not yet been able to produce fungus resistant version of traditional vine varieties. Genetic engineering could open up new opportunities.


Riesling, Merlot and Chardonnay: Delicate vine varieties

Europe's traditional vine varieties are especially susceptible to fungal diseases. Because these new fungal pathogens were introduced to Europe from America in the 19th century, European vines never were able to develop resistance. Many attempts to cross Europe's varieties with resistant varieties from America have had little success: disease resistance always compromised quality.

Although years of breeding have resulted in the development of new, fungus resistant vine varieties, modern breeding has not yet been able to provide fungus resistant versions of favourites like Riesling, Merlot, or Chardonnay.

Genetic engineering has brought new hope. Worldwide, several teams are working on transferring resistance genes into traditional vine varieties. Specifically transferring only the genes necessary for disease resistance would leave the vine's other traits virtually untouched. This would retain the original character of the wine, which would not be possible using traditional breeding methods.

If scientists succeed in developing fungus resistant vine varieties with genetic engineering, it would take years until any wine from these varieties would be available on the market.

Scientists have identified several substances in barley that protect it against fungal pathogens. Transferring the genes that enable the production of these substances could protect vine varieties from pathogenic fungi.

It is not yet known if these strategies will be successful. There have been some promising successes, but also several setbacks. Field trials conducted in Germany between 1999 and 2004 found that new, transgenic vines were just as susceptible to disease as conventionally bred varieties.


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

Fruit and Vegetables
GMO-Procucts: Not to buy yet
November 27, 2006 [nach oben springen]

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