Welcome to GeneWatch UK
GeneWatch UK is a not-for-profit group that monitors developments in genetic technologies from a public interest, human rights, environmental protection and animal welfare perspective. GeneWatch believes people should have a voice in whether or how these technologies are used and campaigns for safeguards for people, animals and the environment. We work on all aspects of genetic technologies - from GM crops and foods to genetic testing of humans.
Please help to support our work by making a donation.
- GM Crops and Food
The European Parliament has objected to three new authorisations to import GM soybeans which are tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate (brandname RoundUp).
The European Commission has admitted that cumulative and synergistic effects of pesticide residues on herbicide-tolerant GM crops to be considered, but that it has no methodology to do so. Read the press release..
To find out about GM ingredients on UK supermarket shelves and in Domino's "thin and crispy" pizza bases, visit the GM Freeze website.
Syngenta's RoundUp Ready GA21 maize is the only remaining GM crop in the commercial pipeline for EU cultivation that would be suitable for growing in England or Flanders (Belgium): areas of northern European countries which grow maize and have not used the opt out.
- New Genetic Engineering Techniques
New developments in genetic engineering raise questions about which crops will be treated as genetically modified (GM) for the purposes of regulation.
Industry and investors are seeking to exempt all new techniques from regulation but civil society groups have concerns about this. Read the GeneWatch UK Open Letter.
- The UK Police National DNA Database
Read the GeneWatch UK briefing on the automated sharing of DNA profiles across the EU. The UK parliament has agreed to opt in to automated sharing but concerns about potential miscarriages of justice have not all been resolved.
- International DNA databases
Kuwait has become the only country in the world to pass a law to put its whole population on a DNA database. Read the press coverage here.
There has been widespread criticism of India's DNA Bill for lack of adequate safeguards to protect privacy and human rights and prevent miscarriages of justice. Read the background here. Critics are calling for greater scrutiny by Committee and significant amendments before the Bill is sent to parliament.
Read the article Forensic DNA databases: Ethical and legal standards: A global review.
GeneWatch UK, the Council for Responsible Genetics and Privacy International are working together on the Forensics Genetics Policy Initiative to develop international standards for DNA databases worldwide. Visit our website.
- GM fish
In the USA, the FDA has approved GM salmon for use as food: the first time a GM animal has been allowed into the food chain. The GM salmon eggs will be produced by the company AquaBounty in Canada, shopped to Panama for growing in an on-land facility, and then shipped as dead fish products to the US market, where they are not required to be labelled as GM. Environmentalists are concerned about the impacts on wild salmon if the GM fish escape, including if GM fish eggs are accidentally or deliberately diverted to fish farms elsewhere in the world. The Center for Food Safety has stated it will bring a legal case against the decision.
- GM insects
Read GeneWatch UK's briefing on proposed releases of GM diamondback moths in New York State. Read the joint press release from the Center for Food Safety, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth US and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York about the proposed trials.
The Catalan Government has rejected a (second) application by Oxitec to release GM olive flies in Catalunya (Spain).
Panama has rejected Oxitec's GM mosquitoes, after conducting a preliminary trial. Malaysia and the Cayman Islands also stopped releases after preliminary trials. Trials continue in Brazil, however the Brazilian Health Authority ANVISA has not authorised commercial releases amid doubts about the efficacy and risks of the technology.
- A DNA database in the NHS?
The new EU Data Protection Regulation has completed trilogue negotations and will soon be adopted by the European Parliament. The new rules will influence the extent to which individuals will be asked for their consent before their genetic information is shared with commercial companies.
Medconfidential has published information about how to opt out from sharing your medical records using a letter you can send to your GP.
- Genes and Marketing
The EU council has begun "trialogue" negotiations with the European Commission and Parliament about new regulations for medical tests, including genetic tests.
Read about concerns about the tests in the Times (subscription required).
The Daily Mail reports that 23andMe is encouraging parents to test their children's genes, against ethical advice.
The FDA has allowed 23andMe to resume selling some health-related tests (carrier status for genetic disorders) in the USA but has not approved the controversial tests for supposed genetic predispositions to complex disorders. The FDA also warned three more companies against selling unregulated genetic tests.
- GM Contamination Register
An on-line database of incidents of GM contamination, illegal releases and adverse agricultural side-effects run by GeneWatch UK and Greenpeace. Read the journal paper.
- GM and Cloned Mammals
The Guardian reports that a UK couple have cloned their dead dog.