GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
  Mar 27, 2017 | 8:12 pm
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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

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.
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Food Safety Evaluation

Antibiotic Resistance Genes: A Threat?

A dangerous scenario: Antibiotic resistance genes from GM foods are taken up by bacteria in the gut during digestion. If bacteria carrying antibiotic resistance genes were ever to cause infection, it would be very difficult for doctors to treat. Until now, however, there is no real proof that the antibiotic resistance genes in GM plants pose a threat. Regardless, as a precautionary measure, some experts say that antibiotic resistance genes should not be used.

In the last 15 years there have been numerous scientific studies on this subject. So far nothing threatening has been found. The most important results of these studies are:

  • The probability of a successful transfer of an antibiotic resistance gene to a bacterium is very low. Estimates from laboratory experiments place the probability at anywhere from 1:10,000,000,000,000 to 1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

  • Resistance genes for the antibiotics kanamycin and ampicillin, the most commonly used marker genes, are already widespread in organisms that cause diseases. Tests on the stools of people not taking antibiotics showed that in 60 percent of cases, more than 10 percent of bacteria had resistance to at least one type of antibiotic. Soil tests confirmed that antibiotic resistant bacteria, particularly kanamycin resistant bacteria, are widespread in nature. Even if resistance genes from GMOs were transferred to bacteria in a few cases, the rise in the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria in our environment would be immeasurably small.

  • Kanamycin is now rarely prescribed in human medicine. Ampicillin is still used to treat certain infections, but since resistance is so widespread, treatment is usually combined with substances (beta-lactamase inhibitors), which take away the effect of the resistance genes.

  • Whenever we eat fruits and vegetables we are eating antibiotic resistant microorganisms from the soil. This has no known negative effects.

Despite these considerations, some still believe that antibiotic resistance markers should not be used at all as a precaution for environmental and consumer protection. It is thought that if GM plants with antibiotic resistance genes are planted over a very large area, the rare event of gene transfer to other organisms (horizontal gene transfer) could become significant.


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

December 12, 2006 [nach oben springen]

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