[DE] Reform of the Gene Technology Act in autumn 2006?

The progress of the announced reform of the Gene Technology Act remains unclear. Reform details are still disputed – even within the government.

Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection
The governing parties, CDU/CSU and SPD, agreed in their coalition treaty last autumn quickly to reform the legislation on genetic engineering. In December 2005, Horst Seehofer (CSU), the Federal Minister responsible for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, announced that relaxing the liability regulations for farmers would be an essential part of the reform. A concrete draft, however, has still not been presented.

In early summer, the media quoted an internal document of the Ministry naming three main aspects of the reform. According to this paper, liability regulations for farmers growing genetically modified crops are to be relaxed, and the release of genetically modified organisms for research purposes, as well as general research with transgenic plants, are to be eased. Minister Seehofer has distanced himself from this document. In June, he declared to a news agency that the current liability regulations would remain the same after the reform. Concerning rules for Good Agricultural Practice, the Minister spoke of separation distances of 150 metres between fields with conventional and genetically modified maize. Even after a reform of the federal gene technology legislation, the public site register would be maintained.

Fellow party members such as Katherina Reiche, a research politician and assistant chairperson of the political faction, criticised the Minister's position and asked Seehofer quickly to present a new Gene Technology Act which eases research, and commercial applications, of agri-biotechnology.


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