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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Processed Foods

Meats and Sausage

Cattle, Swine, Sheep, Poultry – The livestock we use to produce meat, eggs, and milk are not genetically modified and won’t be any time soon. Genetic engineering, however, can still play a role in animal feed and in the processing of meat products like ham and sausage.

To date, there are no genetically modified livestock. In the 90s, some scientists attempted to "optimise" some traits in swine and cattle by genetic engineering. They hoped to augment growth or achieve certain improvements like lowering susceptibility to disease or making milk less fattening. These projects have since died off because methods for producing transgenic animals are still in need of improvement. These projects resulted in transgenic animals that were susceptible to disease or unable to reproduce. There are also societal reservations and ethical concerns about GM livestock.

Bild vergrößern

No genetically modified livestock: Cattle, swine, poultry, or sheep.

Ham and sausage: Genetic engineering is sometimes used to make ingredients and additives.

The cattle, swine, sheep and poultry that we use for food are not genetically modified, and this is not expected to change any time soon.

  • It is possible that genetically modified fish products will come on the market in the near future. GM salmon is currently awaiting approval in the United States.

  • A few mammals have been genetically modified so that they secrete valuable pharmaceuticals in their milk. None of these animals are used for food.

  • Animal cloning, or producing an identical genetic copy of an animal, has made great advancements in recent years. Cloning could soon have applications for livestock. Cloning livestock would be a method of preserving valuable traits. Cloning itself doesn’t yield genetically modified animals.

Animal feed and feed additives. Meats, milk, and eggs do not come from animals that are genetically modified. Nonetheless, genetic engineering has a lot to do with the production of many animal products.

  • Animal Feed: Soybeans are the basis of many animal feeds. Soybean shipments reach the EU from Brazil, the US, and Argentina, and they generally at least partially consist of GM soybeans. It is estimated that 60 to 90 percent of world soybean exports are genetically modified. The fact that animal feed is made from GM plants has no impact on the quality of the resulting meat products.

  • Many feed additives like vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes are produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

  • Veterinary medicines and vaccines are produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

Sausage and Ham. Genetic engineering is often used in the production of sausage and ham. Many additives commonly found in sausage and ham are often produced using methods involving genetically modified microorganisms. For example:

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is used to prevent oxidation, stabilising the colour of sausage.
  • Glutamate is used to enhance flavour.
  • Enzymes (proteases) can make meat more tender and improve aroma. They can also be used to help separate meat residues from bones.

There are other additives that can be produced from GM soybeans or GM maize. For example:

  • Soy protein (incorporating a certain amount of plant ingredients into sausage is permitted)
  • Dextrine or maltodextrine (from GM maize) as a filler or stabiliser
  • Emulsifiers like soy lecithin or soy mono- and diglycerides


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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