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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Germany's High Court Preserves Restrictions on GM Crops
24 November 2010 12:03 pm
Germany's high court today has upheld the country's law governing genetically modified (GM) crops. The law, originally passed in 2004 and modified slightly in 2008, holds farmers—and researchers—who plant GM crops liable for any pollen that escapes to neighbors' fields and makes any crops contaminated this way unmarketable as GM-free. It also requires a buffer zone between GM and conventional crops, and it mandates a public database that includes the locations of all GM plantings.
The German state of Saxony-Anhalt challenged the law's compatibility with Germany's Basic Law (the country's constitution), claiming it unduly limited farmers' "professional freedom," and that the database was an invitation to anti-GM activists to destroy crops. It also argued that the law turned any field trials of GM crops into an "incalculable economic risk" for seed companies.
But the national high court's ruling came down firmly on the side of the law's restrictions. "With the possibility to deliberately make changes in the genome, genetic engineering influences the elementary structures of life," the court wrote. "The consequences of such interventions can be, if any, difficult to undo."
The court seems to consider GM crops an unfinished experiment. "In view of science's still unfinished assessment of the long-term consequences of the use of genetic engineering, the legislature has a special duty to be careful and to consider Article 20a, which includes responsibility to future generations and protecting the natural environment," the court wrote. Article 20a is an article in Germany's Basic Law, added in 1994, that declares that the state "shall protect the natural bases of life." Today's ruling is the first time the high court has referred to the article in a decision.