While dissent between - and within - the ruling parties, CDU/CSU and SPD, repeatedly has delayed an amendment, the German government has been debating changes to the Gene Technology Act for months. The opposition party FDP now has presented their own draft of an amendment intended to facilitate GM crop cultivation and research.
Three changes to the current legislation are the most important aspects of the draft. First, arguing that that out-crossing is negligible from field trials - which measure only a few square metres - the FDP proposes that random out-crossings from field trials no longer be considered as illegal market entry.
Secondly, noting that the establishment of the public register coincided with increased vandalism of GM fields, the FDP suggests that this list no longer be public. A further suggestion is that, since many farmers do not plan their cultivations a quarter-year in advance, notification to the register be possible up until one month prior to the sowing date, instead of the current three months.
Thirdly, referring to the current law under which GM growers are liable for economic losses caused by out-crossings of their crops, the FDP proposes to limit the liability of GM farmers for economic losses of their neighbours strictly to cases in which the EU-wide labelling threshold of 0.9 percent would be exceeded in the affected field.
The German Industry Association Biotechnology (DIB ) welcomes the paper. However, since the FPD does not belong to the government coalition, it is rather unlikely that the paper will influence the draft by the Minister of Agriculture, Horst Seehofer (CSU), which is now expected for February.