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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The European Commission and other EU agencies are not responsible for the content.
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Juice, Soft Drinks, Wine, and Beer

Fruit juice, beer, wine, and liquor – many of our beverages are based on plant ingredients. Neither the plants themselves, nor the yeasts used in alcoholic fermentation are genetically modified. Nonetheless, many beverages are produced using enzymes made with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

Alcoholic Beverages. Whether it’s wine, beer, or spirits, alcoholic fermentation is the fundamental metabolic process behind every alcoholic beverage. Yeasts break down plant starches into simple sugars, which are then converted into alcohol (ethanol). Secondary metabolic products help give alcoholic beverages their characteristic aromas and flavours.

Red wine: A stable colour and full aroma are made are possible by enzymes. Some wine makers use enzyme supplements.

Fruit juice. Enzymes improve the efficiency of juice extraction and break down substances that cause cloudiness.

Bild vergrößern

Beer from Bt maize. A beer from Bt maize is brewed in Sweden (Kenth). A similar beer is availible in Switzerland (Cool Corn).

  • Plants. Plant materials provide the starch for metabolic fermentation. These may be wine grapes (wine), barley, wheat, maize (beer, spirits), potatoes, and fruit (spirits, liqueurs). None of the plants that are used as starch sources for alcoholic beverages have commercially grown genetically modified varieties. The one exception to this is maize, which is sometimes used for brewing beer.

  • Yeast. None of the yeast strains commercially used in alcoholic fermentation are genetically engineered. No GM yeast strains have been approved in any country, and this is not likely to change any time soon. At one time hopes were high that genetically modified yeast could open new possibilities for alcoholic fermentation. Several research projects were aimed at improving brewing processes to produce low-calorie or low-alcohol beers. Despite several attempts, these efforts have not panned out.

  • Enzymes. The breakdown of starch, the fermentation of sugars, and the formation of characteristic secondary metabolites are all driven by enzymes. These enzymes naturally occur in raw plant materials or are produced by yeast. Sometimes, however, processes can be optimised by adding isolates of essential enzymes. Many of these are produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

  • In beer brewing, supplemental enzymes can accelerate malting, suppress off-flavours, or degrade residues. In wine, they can improve juice recovery during pressing or can adjust the development of flavours and aromas. In spirits, they improve the breakdown of starch and carbohydrates.

The use of supplemental enzymes in beer is not permitted in Germany.

Juices. Enzymes can increase the efficiency of juice extraction by digesting starches and cellulose, a tough compound that is found in plant cell walls. After pressing, fresh juice retains enzymes that break down cloudy, starchy residues. Many of these useful enzymes can now be produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

Juices are sometimes fortified with vitamins or sweetened with artificial sweeteners for diabetics. Some of these additives are produced with the help of genetic engineering.

Soft Drinks. Cola and other soft drinks contain several ingredients and additives that are sometimes produced from GM maize or with the help of GM microorganisms.

  • Glucose syrup (corn syrup), glucose, and other products derived from starch can be made from GM maize.

  • Colourings like beta-carotene and riboflavin, vitamins, citric acid, and the sweetener aspartame can all be produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.


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

Crops and Cereals
GM Plants: The Big Four
Rape Seed
Global GM Crop Production in 2013
December 7, 2006 [nach oben springen]

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