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Survey: EU citizens reject genetic engineering of wild species with gene drives

European Stop Gene Drive Campaign demands global moratorium

The results are here: This first opinion poll on Gene Drives shows that a majority of citizens from 8 EU countries oppose the idea of using the technology in nature because they consider the risks of such experiments to be too high. The technology can be used to genetically modify or eradicate wild species. 

The levels of rejection were 46% - 70%.

The levels of support were very low: 7% - 16%.

A large majority of respondents (65%-82%) agree that environmental releases of gene drive organisms should be postponed until there is scientific proof that their release would not harm biodiversity, human health, agriculture or peace.

A similar majority (61% - 85%) agrees that the authorisation of environmental releases of gene drive organisms that could spread globally should require a global consensus.

The survey amongst nearly 9.000 people is representative of 280 million EU citizens. It was commissioned by nine NGOs demanding an informed and inclusive public debate and a global moratorium on the environmental release of this new type of genetically modified organisms.

“Europeans are seriously sceptical about genetically engineering wild species with Gene Drives. The results of the poll send a clear message to the European Commission: we need global consensus before any one scientist or country is allowed to release Gene Drive Organisms into nature.  Launching this now would be madness, because it could change the genetic makeup and features of species forever or drive them into extinction. We need a proper public debate that involves people in the risks of genetically modifying wild populations or entire species before anything happens.” Laura Sullivan- WeMove Europe

What are Gene Drives?

The so-called Gene Drive technology is a method of genetic engineering, enabled by CRISPR/Cas. Gene Drives are designed to either replace wild populations or species, such as mosquitos or rats, with genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) or to eradicate them completely. The application of gene drives in nature would mean a paradigm shift in genetic engineering: from controllable and containable agricultural crops to redesigning entire ecosystems. Some scientists are convinced that gene drive technology could be a potential solution to various challenges such as diseases, invasive species, or agricultural pests. A research consortium funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is currently planning first environmental field trials with gene drive engineered mosquitos in Burkina Faso, to see whether the technology can deliver the promised benefit of eradicating the anopheles mosquito.

The problem? Many scientists warn that such environmental releases could have possible grave and even irreversible consequences for ecosystems, biodiversity, human health, agricultural systems or peace. They predict that once released, gene drive organisms may be difficult to control or to retrieve, may spread globally and could permanently harm ecosystems.


Campaigning in a pandemic: what we achieved in 2020

5 January 2021

There’s always a before and an after. It’s hard to think about this past year without it. Before COVID happened. After COVID happened.

After COVID happened -- we needed radical and quick solutions to deal with a global pandemic.

So, as we gear up for a new year together, take a look at what we’ve achieved in 2020...

Banning single-use plastics

26 August 2020

The headlines were pretty shocking. Eight million tonnes of plastic dumped in the ocean each year - the equivalent of a truckload per minute. [1] A lifeless whale on a Spanish beach, its stomach dismantled by 29 kgs of plastic waste. [2] The year was 2017 and momentum was building in Europe for a ban on single use plastics. But would enough people actually care enough to do something about it?

The answer was a resounding “yes”. Our community’s reaction to the plastics problem was literally massive. What we achieved shows how much we cared about our oceans, our environment, our wildlife.

Read the full report to see we got there!


Europe needs a green and social recovery

27 July 2020

As the coronavirus wrecks our lives and livelihoods, the EU has, for the first time in our history, taken action as one by acquiring a huge loan, in order to pass on the money to those worst affected by the virus. Many thought it was impossible, yet our community fought hard to demand what was needed as soon as the crisis hit.

Massive amounts of money will soon be transferred - so massive our economies could start to move from the ‘old’, to the ‘new’. From a model that upholds unequal healthcare, air pollution, the destruction of nature and our climate, to a model that is green and fair.

Sadly, the deal agreed upon by our leaders does not support a truly green recovery. The fight is not over -- but we only have a few months to turn things around. We will fight for governments receiving the money to make their investments green and social. We will pressure EU leaders to only approve transformative plans, and push back on measures that will require austerity. We will call for the loans to be paid back by taxes on the biggest corporations, who today often pay less tax than citizens.

Read our full report on Europe's recovery plan HERE!


BIG WIN on patents!

22 May 2020

It’s official and we won: Conventionally-bred animals and plants are not patentable. It may seem obvious to us, but corporations like Bayer (buyer of Monsanto), Syngenta and Carlsberg fought hard against this outcome. Without a patent, they cannot control and profit from the biological information in those plants and animals!

This is a story of success and a story of people working together hand in hand.  We’re so pleased to walk you through some of the exciting highlights: take a look HERE!


H&M and Zara’s dirty secret

27 June 2019

H&M and Zara have just been linked to devastating pollution in Asia. The clothes many Europeans love to buy and wear are made with fabrics from factories that dump untreated, toxic water directly into rivers and streams.;

Clean production technologies already exist and could be widely implemented, if brands like H&M and Zara demanded them. Brands can play a key role in this process by demanding that viscose companies clean up their act and by offering them support in transitioning towards more sustainable production processes.

This is entirely within our power to change. H&M and Zara are already sensitive to the media coverage this campaign has received. Now, they need to hear from us. It’s worked before — when thousands of workers died in Bangladesh producing clothes for fashion giants, H&M and Zara signed a landmark accord following consumer pressure. Let's do it one more time!


Guarantee our rights!

We launched our first Brexit campaign to coincide with the start of the formal Brexit negotiations. We are working alongside our partners New Europeans to protect the rights of EU citizens who live in other EU member states but are now facing stress, anxiety and an uncertain future because of Brexit. Already 30,000 Europeans are calling on EU leaders to protect those rights. Why don’t you join them?


No patents on beer

02 July 2017

Barley, brewing and beer are all old and well known traditions, which anybody can use. Nevertheless the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted patents to Heineken and Carlsberg for regularly bred barley. With the patent these transnational corporations own the barley from the seed to the pint of beer. Not only is it outrageous these greedy corporations want to own a tradition that has been around for thousands of years, but in granting the patent, the EPO is in breach of EU law. Not only, for every patent they approve, they get paid.

We have a good chance to stop the patent on barley and to stop such patents from ever being granted. The EU already gave in to people’s pressure last year when more than 570.000 Europeans signed our petition, and declared that patents cannot be granted for plants and animals, unless they’re genetically modified.

And victories keep rolling in. At the end of June, the European Patent Office decided not to grant patents on conventional bred plants anymore. Patents on tomatoes broccoli are impossible now! Unfortunately the patents on brewing barley might still be possible - and so our struggle continues. We have filed a legal objection against it and we’ll keep you in the loop. In the meantime please support us and sign!


Blow the whistle!

21 March 2019

When Antoine Deltour, the then 28-year-old working at PricewaterhouseCoopers accidentally found evidence of a massive-scale corporate tax evasion facilitated by Luxembourg, he blew the whistle. The scandal exposed by Antoine, known as LuxLeaks, helped put corruption and tax-avoidance on EU’s political agenda.

Antoine is a hero - and whistleblowers like him, brave enough to sound the alarm and warn us of corporate violations, must be protected from retaliation and prosecution. Instead, a court convicted Antoine of stealing trade secrets. While he’s paying the high price for standing up to corporate greed, not even one of the tax-evading firms has faced repercussions.

The European Commission has the power to propose new strong whistleblower protection in Europe.

If thousands of people across Europe raise our voices in solidarity with whistleblowers, we can influence the shape of an EU law which could change the lives of many brave people such as Antoine. Join us in demanding that the EU protects whistleblowers from retaliation and revenge by those who’d rather keep their shady dealings secret. Take action now!


Stop monster-merger BaySanto!

Bayer and Monsanto are desperately trying to merge into one giant agri-chemical corporation. Together, they will control a huge slice of what what farmers grow, and ultimately what we eat. If the merger is to be successful, the two companies must gain approval of competition authorities all over the world, including from the EU. Bayer has managed to “convince” Donald Trump to back the mega-merger, and now there is really only one organisation that has enough clout to stop the deal -- the European Union.

While our fight is in Europe, the struggle against these mega-mergers is global. There are growing movements of farmers, consumers and citizens like us, who protest against it. None of the important competition authorities have yet signed off on the mergers. It is up to us to hold Margrethe Vestager accountable and demand to stop the merger. Join the fight and sign the petition now!