GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
  Mar 25, 2017 | 6:52 am
Site Search

Searches all of GMO-Compass in an instant

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

The setting-up of this website was financially supported by the European Union within the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme from 1 January 2005 until 28 February 2007.

The European Commission and other EU agencies are not responsible for the content.
See what’s what.
The GMO Food Database
The GMO Food Database.
You want to know for which food products or plants gene technology plays a role?

Then enter here the name of a plant, foodstuff, ingredient or additive:

Database search
All database entries in overview:
Ingredients and additives
Additives according to E numbers

Please note that the GMO Compass Database currently is being expanded and updated. Please check back for new entries.

Sign up to receive regular updates on GM food quality and safety.
To change or cancel your subscription, please enter your email above.
Comments, suggestions or questions?
Please contact us at
Change font size
1 2 3

Fruit and Vegetables


About four million tonnes of bananas are imported into the EU each year. A fungal disease is now threatening banana plantations, and plant breeders have not yet succeeded in developing resistant cultivars. Many hope that genetic engineering can offer a solution. At this point, such projects are still only in the greenhouse.

Monocultures offer the perfect conditions for the spreading of pests and diseases. In this respect, bananas are no different from any other crop.

Back in the 50s, the most common banana variety, Gros Michel, was completely wiped-out by what was known as Panama disease. This disease was caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, also called fusarium wilt. Gros Michel was replaced by a resistant southern Chinese variety called Cavendish.

Bild vergrößern

Genetically uniform bananas are defenceless to fungal diseases.



For the last thirty years a new disease has been becoming more and more widespread. The disease is called Black Sigatoka. Right now, the only way to treat this new disease is by applying massive doses of fungicides - a practice which is losing effectiveness as the fungus is becoming more resistant. In several regions the disease can cut banana yield in half, leading farmers to spray their plantations up to fifty times a year. This practice endangers the environment and the health of plantation workers.

Black Sigatoka isn't only threatening the Cavendish bananas that are popular in Europe and North America. It also affects local varieties that are popular in Asia, Africa and Latin America. These include starchy plantains, prepared similarly to potatoes, which are a staple food in many poorer communities in the Third World.

Disease defence: Bananas lack genetic diversity

Monocultures and Black Sigatoka aren't the only reasons why bananas are in trouble. Cultivated bananas are known as pathenocarpic, which means they can form fruit without ever having been fertilised. Rather than forming seeds, bananas reproduce by forming side-shoots and suckers. This means that the gene pool of bananas never really changes over the generations. This is a major restriction to breeding possibilities: all efforts to introduce fungus resistance to Cavendish bananas through conventional breeding methods have failed.

Many banana producers hope to save Cavendish bananas with the help of genetic engineering. This technique could finally be able to provide popular Cavendish bananas with resistance to Black Sigatoka.

Last year a group of scientists announced that they would completely sequence the banana genome. They intend to focus particularly on banana varieties found in nature. Wild bananas can reproduce by seeds and are constantly confronted with fungi and other pathogens. Sequencing the genome should enable researchers to discover resistance genes that could be transferred to high-yielding, seedless varieties.

  • Crop improvement efforts with bananas have been going on for quite some time. Researchers in Belgium, in cooperation with the INIBAP-Network, have been working for years to develop improved banana cultivars using conventional breeding methods and genetic engineering. Leuven University set up a banana archive comprised of 1200 banana varieties from all over the world.

  • Resistance genes from various plants including onions and dahlias were introduced into plantains, primarily with the goal of developing resistant plantain cultivars for the Third World.

  • The resulting genetically modified plantains exhibit resistance to the fungus in greenhouses. But before they can be released for use, some toxicological tests still need to be carried out.

If the breeding of resistant plantains succeeds - potentially with the aid of genetic engineering - it would be a contribution to food security in many tropical countries. Cutting back on fungicide spraying would also be an improvement for the environment and for the health of farm workers. Another important factor is the price of fungicides: many small farmers can't afford to frequently spray against Black Sigatoka.

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]

© 2017 by GMO Compass. All rights reserved. | Imprint | website created by webmotive