The following is adapted for Powerbase from “Control or Collaboration?” by Antje Lorch and Christoph Then.
Prof. Detlef Bartsch is head of the Coexistence and GMO Monitoring unit of the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) in Berlin, Germany. In June 2009 he was re-appointed as a member of the GMO Panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a position he has held since 2003.
- 1 Studies and scientific work
- 2 Current position
- 3 Membership of commissions and working groups
- 4 Participation in research projects
- 5 Selected publications
- 6 Participation in lobby organisations
- 7 Direct and indirect involvement in approval procedures for GMOs
- 8 Quotes
- 9 CV
- 10 Affiliations
- 11 Contact
- 12 Resources
- 13 Notes
Studies and scientific work
- studies in biology, University of Göttingen (Germany)
- 1990: PhD on plant ecology at the University of Göttingen (Germany)
- 1990-92: postdoc at the TU Berlin, Section Ecosystem Science & Plant Ecology with Prof. Herbert Sukopp (Member of the German Central Commission on Biosafety - ZKBS - 1990-2006)
- 1992-97: Research Fellow at the Technical University (RWTH) Aachen with Prof. Ingolf Schuphan
- 1997-98: Research Fellow with Prof Norman Ellstrand, University of California Riverside (UCR, USA)
- 1999-2003: lecturer in botany at the RWTH Aachen
Until his retirement Prof Ingolf Schuphan chaired the Institute for Environmental Research at the RWTH Aachen. From 1992-2000, research fellow Bartsch conducted field trials with GM sugar beets from the seed company KWS.
Schuphan was project leader of several joint projects on GM risk assessment, financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Since 1998 Bartsch has been a private docent (senior academic) and kept this position when he started working for the Robert Koch Institute (RKI, now BVL), the German competent authority for the release of GMOs. Together with scientists from RWTH Aachen, Bartsch published scientific articles that are connected to GM risk assessment and the BMBF projects, and he has overseen PhD theses on the topic of ecology and genetic engineering. In 2006, Bartsch's RWTH colleague Achim Gathmann also joined the BVL. In 2007, the RWTH awarded Bartsch the title Professor.
The following is a description of Bartsch from the EFSA Declaration of Interests:
- Lecturer and associated member of a University working group on biosafety research on GMOs; several papers published on GMO biosafety, risk assessment and monitoring; reviewer for several international peer-reviewed journals on GM0 risk assessment.
Since 2003, Bartsch has worked at the Robert Koch Insitute (RKI) under Hans-Jörg Buhk, and 2004 moved together with him to the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), when the approvals system for the release of GMOs and field trials was moved to the BVL.
Membership of commissions and working groups
- In Germany Bartsch is a member of a working group on post-market monitoring, together with representatives of other authorities, research institutes and biotech companies. With others, this group developed questionnaires for farmers to fill in as the main component of a post-market monitoring of GM crops.
- since 2002: reviewer for GMO biosafety research projects financed by German ministries for Education and Research (BMBF) and for Food, Consumer Protection and Agriculture (BMEVL).
- 2002-06: reviewer for GMO biosafety projects for the USDA.
- 2002-07: member of the Steering Committee on GMO monitoring of the German Association of Engineers (VDI): “The Association of German Engineers (VDI) is a financially independent and politically unaffiliated, non-profit organization of 132,000 engineers and natural scientists. More than 13,000 of these members work for the VDI in an honorary capacity. Established in 1856, the VDI is today the largest engineering association in Western Europe. In Germany, it is recognized as the representative of engineers both within the profession and in the public arena. As the leading institution for training and technology transfer among experts, it is also a partner at the preliminary stages of the decision-making process in matters of technological policy and for all questions that engineers face in their professional or public lives.”
- since 2003: member of the EFSA GMO panel. In 2009 he was re-appointed for his third term 2009-12 as one of 4 German scientists in the 21 person strong panel. Member of the EFSA working groups Applications - Environment, Guidance for the assessment of genetically modified plants used for non-food or non-feed purposes, Self task on non-target organisms and the sub-working groups Environment ERA GD and Statistics ERA Guidance.
- 2003-2008: member of the expert working group on monitoring of GMOs of the European Commission
- since 2006: Steering Committee member, National Research Programme 59, to evaluate research projects for the Swiss National Research Foundation. The National Research Programme 59 was set up after the Swiss population decided on a moratorium against the commercial release of GM crops. The Programme also finances research, including Jörg Romeis's development of GM wheat.
Participation in research projects
- 1992-2000: Ecological research into possible environmental risks of genetically modified virus-resistant sugar beet (Main focus: Analysis of the gene flow between cultivated, wild and volunteer beet) at RWTH Aachen
- 1999-2002: Ecological impacts of insect-resistant Bt maize on various insects and the European corn borer at the RWTH Aachen
- 1999-2004: Assessment of the impacts of genetically modified plants. (Klaus Ammann was on the board of this project).
- 2000-03: Monitoring of transgenic traits (herbicide, virus, nematode and fungal resistance) in weed and wild beet at the RWTH Aachen
- 2000-04: research project, Impact on environmental effects of virus resistant GM plants
- 2001-04: "VRTP-IMPACT - Virus-resistant transgenic plants: Ecological impact of gene flow", a European Commission project
- since 2002: lecturer and associated member of a working group of the RWTH Aachen on biosafety research
- 2004-07: "Sustainable Introduction of GMOs into European agriculture", a 7.5 Mio project of which 4.5 Mio are paid by the EU. Other participants of SIGMEA were Klaus Ammann and Joachim Schiemann.
- 2006-09: member of the consortium of the controversial EU TRANSCONTAINER project to "develop efficient and stable biological containment systems for genetically modified plants": terminator crops.
- 2007-09: research project BEETLE (Biological and Ecological Evaluation Towards Long-Term Effects) on “potential long-term effects of GM plants by use of literature and expert surveys"
- member of a IOBC/WPRS working group that developed a concept for testing effects of GM crops on non-target organism, together with scientists from the big biotech companies (see below)
- Romeis J, Bartsch D et al. (2008): Assessment of risk of insect-resistant transgenic crops to nontarget arthropods. Nature Biotechnology 26: 203-208. (Bartsch: BVL)
- Bartsch D & Gathmann A (2006): National coordination of GMO monitoring – a concept for Germany Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit 1 (Sup. 1): 45-48. (Bartsch, Gathmann: BVL)
- Gathmann A. Wirooks L, Hothorn LA, Bartsch D & Schuphan I (2006): Impact of Bt maize pollen (MON810) on lepidopteran larvae living on accompanying weeds Molecular Ecology 15: 2677-2685. (Gathmann, Bartsch, Schuphan: RWTH Aachen)
- Saeglitz C, Bartsch D, Eber S, Gathmann A, Presnitz KU & Schuphan I (2006): Monitorig the Cry1Ab suspectibility of European corn borer in Germany. Jornal of Economic Entomology 99: 1768-1773. (Bartsch, Gathmann: BVL; alle anderen Autoren: RWTH Aachen; finanziert durch BMBF Grant 0312175).
- Bartsch D, Dietz-Pfeilstetter A, König R, Schuphan I, Smalla K & Wackernagel W (1999): Wissenschaftliche Begleitung von Freilandversuchen mit Rhizomania-resistenten Zuckerrüben. BMBF-Statusseminar, Braunschweig 1999, 65-76. (Bartsch, Schuphan: RWTH Aachen)
Participation in lobby organisations
- member of the lobby organisation EFB, and possibly since 2002 interim board member of the EFB biodiversity section under Klaus Ammann.
- since 2002: member of ISBR, of which Joachim Schiemann is president.
- since 2002: member of the Botanical Association of Berlin-Brandenburg
- since 2002: member of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland
- since 2005: As member of the IOBC/WPRS, Bartsch is one of the co-authors of the a publication about the tiered approach as basis for the risk assessment of effects on non-target organisms. This concept was first presented 2004 at a EuropaBio conference, and then developed in the IOBC/WPRS working group, where Bartsch was member of the steering committee together with Jörg Romeis and a representative from Syngenta. The authors of the Nature article include also employees from BASF, DuPont and Monsanto as well as the EFSA GMO Panel members Joachim Schiemann and Jeremey Sweet. The article claims that even though the working group includes "scientists that work within regulatory agencies, the commercial biotech industry and commercial contract laboratories [...] members of the working group participate as individuals, not as representatives of these organizations."
- 1997 Bartsch initiated the "Aachen initiative"; in 2000 he and Schuphan started an appeal “Don't disregard the ecological advantages of plant biotechnology!”
- 20002 he was shown in an advertising video by the biotech industry about GM maize.
- since 2002: member of the Society for Plant Breeding, which is supported among others by BASF and the German Plant Breeders' Association
- In 2004 Bartsch reviewed Klaus Ammann's report, "The impact of agricultural biotechnology on biodiversity", and is listed in it in the context of his position at the RKI. The report was financed by Monsanto.
Direct and indirect involvement in approval procedures for GMOs
In Germany, Bartsch is as a representative of the competent authority for the release of GMOs among others responsible for the approval of coexistence and (postmarket) monitoring. At EU level he is a member of the EFSA GMO panel also responsible for the approval of monitoring plans, as well as for objections from EU member states. In Germany he is closely connected with scientists from the RWTH Aachen who conduct research studies, financed by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, on whose results he relies (among others) for his assessment.
- In 1995 Bartsch stated in an interview, „Es geht schon lange nicht mehr darum, ob wir die Gentechnik wollen oder nicht. Es geht vielmehr darum, wie wir sie wollen.“ "It's no longer about whether we like genetic engineering or not. It is about how we want it."
- In 2006 Bartsch described MON810 as a "tested, safe product": "The BVL is aware of the results of the BMBF safety research into MON810 maize. In the BVL’s judgement, they do not give grounds for a reassessment."
- CV as EFSA GMO Panel member: not currently available
- Declaration of Interests for EFSA GMO Panel: https://doi.efsa.europa.eu/doi/doiweb/panel/GMO/wg/75467
- EFSA: New members for GMO Panel, GMO Safety website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, accessed 2 July 2009
- "[Bt maize pollen outside of maize fields does not pose a threat to butterflies]", GMO Safety website, 2 April 2008, accessed 7 July 2009
- "Wissenschaftliche Begleitung von Freilandversuchen mit Rhizomania-resistenten Zuckerrüben", BMBF-Statusseminar, Braunschweig 1999, pp. 65, 66
- KWS website is at: http://www.kws.de/
- See, for example, C. Saeglitz et al., Monitoring the Cry1Ab Susceptibility of European Corn Borer in Germany, Journal of Economic Entomology 99(5):1768-1773. 2006
- "Detlef Bartsch, Annual Declaration of Interests", EFSA website, 2008, can be downloaded from https://doi.efsa.europa.eu/doi/doiweb/wg/45263 (direct link to pdf does not work as of 7 July 2009)
- Ecological research into possible environmental risks of genetically modified virus-resistant sugar beet (Main focus: Analysis of the gene flow between cultivated, wild and volunteer beet), (1992-2000), RWTH Aachen University, November 14 2002, accessed 8 July 2009
- Ecological impacts of insect-resistant Bt maize on various insects and the European corn borer, (1999-2002) RWTH Aachen University, Chair of Biology V, Aachen; Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA)(since 2008 Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)), Institute for Biological Control, Darmstadt, GMO Safety website, accessed 26 July 2009
- Monitoring of transgenic traits (herbicide, virus, nematode and fungal resistance) in weed and wild beet, (2000-2003) RWTH Aachen University; Chair of Biology V, GMO Safety website, accessed 26 July 2009
- Impact on environment of virus resistant GM plants, FP5 Project Record, European Commission Community Research, European Commission CORDIS website, accessed 26 July 2009
- VRTP-IMPACT - Virus-resistant transgenic plants: Ecological impact of gene flow, INRA, 2003, accessed 10 Aug 2009
- Sustainable Introduction of GMOs into European agriculture, INRA website, accessed 10 Aug 2009
- The Consortium, TRANSCONTAINER website, accessed 10 Aug 2009
- BEETLE Final Report: Long term effects of genetically modified (GM) crops on health and the environment (including biodiversity): Prioritisation of potential risks and delimitation of uncertainties, German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, 2007, accessed 10 Aug 2009
- Interim Board of new Section Biodiversity, European Federation of Biotechnology, Status of 8 December 2002, accessed 17 August 2009
- Jörg Romeis et al, Assessment of risk of insect-resistant transgenic crops to nontarget arthropods, Nature Biotechnology 26, 203-208 (2008), published online 7 February 2008, doi:10.1038/nbt1381
- Jörg Romeis et al, Assessment of risk of insect-resistant transgenic crops to nontarget arthropods, Nature Biotechnology 26, 203-208 (2008), published online 7 February 2008, doi:10.1038/nbt1381, full article available by subscription only
- Nicht die ökologischen Vorteile der grünen Gentechnik vernachlässigen, InterNutrition website, 2003, accessed 17 Aug 2009
- Fördernde Mitglieder, GPZ Online website, accessed 17 Aug 2009
- Klaus Ammann, The impact of agricultural biotechnology on biodiversity, 23 Aug 2004, p. 103
- Gabriele Dinkhauser, Immer auf die Rübe, Zeit Online, 44/1995, accessed 26 July 2009
- Detlef Bartsch, "This is a tested, safe product", in an interview with gmo-safety.eu, Aug 4, 2006, accessed 26 July 2009