Joachim Schiemann

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adapted from “Control or Collaboration?” by Antje Lorch & Christoph Then

Contents

Studies and scientific work

  • 1969-73: biochemistry studies at the University of Halle (GDR)
  • 1973-76: preparation of PhD thesis, Institute of Plant Biochemistry, University of Halle (GDR)
  • 1977: PhD thesis, University of Halle (Germany)
  • 1976-91: Scientist at Institute for Plant Biochemistry and at the Central Institute for Genetics and Crop Research in Gatersleben (GDR, D)

Current position

Since 1991, Joachim Schiemann has worked at the Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA), Brunswick, Germany.[1] [2] Through a re-structuring of German research institutes, the BBA became part of the Julius Kühn Institut (JKI). Here Schiemann is head of the Institute for Biosafety of Genetically Modified Plants. This includes research for and advice to the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer protection (BMELV). According to the Julius Kühn-Institut website:

The activities of the institute result from the gene technology law, the plant protection law, relevant legal orders, and from the research plan of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). They especially deal with risk assessment and monitoring of GM organisms as well as co-existence of cultivation systems with and without GM plants. The institute is involved in the authorisation of the deliberate release and placing on the market of GM organisms. Biosafety research, research accompanying the release of GM crop plants and monitoring serve to investigate safety aspects and possible effects of GM plants on nature and sustainable agriculture. The institute gives advice to the government, mainly BMELV, with regard to safety aspects of gene technology and co-existence. It co-ordinates the biosafety research on GM organisms within the Julius Kühn-Institute and within BMELV’s research area.[3]

Since 1998, he has been coordinator of the BBA (now JKI) working group “Monitoring accompanying the cultivation of genetically modified plants in the agroecosystem” in which, among other issues, scientists, representatives of the different federal agencies and of biotech companies developed a questionnaire for farmers as a way of conducting post-market monitoring.[4]

A similar questionnaire was used by Monsanto for the post-market monitoring of GM maize MON810 cultivation and was considered to be insufficient by the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) when it stopped the sale of MON810 seed in April 2007.[5] As coordinator he published several papers published on GMO monitoring, including farm questionnaires.

In 2001-04 he was the project leader on a related project, "Concept and methods for post-market monitoring of genetically modified plants: Issues not confined to a single Land or crop".[6] On this topic he often works with Kerstin Schmidt (BioMath, BioOK and FINAB; Rostock, Germany), for example, on the publication of articles.

As BBA/JKI scientist, Schiemann is partner in numerous German and EU research projects. In some cases these projects included the development of genetic engineering methods and GM plants.

Schiemann is a lector at the University of Lüneburg, since 2005 as an honorary professor.

Selected publications

Membership of commissions and working groups

  • 1996-99: OECD expert group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology.[7]
  • 2000-04, Schiemann was member of the scientific advisory board Biosafety research and Monitoring of the Federal Ministry for Eduction and Research (BMBF).
  • 2000-03: Member of the EU Scientific Committee on Plants (SCP).
  • 2003-2009: member of the EFSA GMO Panel. Member of the EFSA working groups GMO-Applications-Environment, GMO-Guidance for the assessment of genetically modified plants used as a production platform for non-food products, and Self task on non-target organisms (GMO). 2004-06: member of the EFSA working group Post-market Environmental Monitoring (PMEM) that among others developed questionnaires for post-market monitoring.
  • since 2004: trustee of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME). Among other projects the IME also develops GM pharma-crops.
  • 2005-06: member of the advisory board of the pro-GM website GMO Compass http://www.gmo-compass.org, which was funded as an EU project at that time.
  • since 2005: evaluation of GMO biosafety research projects for German ministries, German research organisations, USDA and the EU.
  • 2007-08: International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Research Foundation: Description from the EFSA DoI: “Member of an international expert consultation group on Problem Formulation for ERA of GM Crops. This ILSI activity concerned research, namely to lay down and harmonize problem formulation as a prerequisite for ERA. The expert group provided a draft of “Principles of Environmental Risk Assessment for Genetically Modified Plants: Problem Formulation” to be submitted to “Environmental Science and Technology” for publication. The members of the consultation group belong to institutions representing academia, industry, government, and competent authorities."
  • since 2008: Member of the GMO advisory board of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)

Participation in research projects

  • 1992-2002: coordinator of the BMBF financed research project "Out-crossing from transgenic maize and quantifying outcrossing rates"[8]
  • 2001-04: coordinator of the BMBF financed research project "Concept and methods for post-market monitoring of genetically modified plants"[9]
  • 2001-04: One of four partners[10] of the EU project GMO RES COM[11]
  • since 2003 active in the European Technology Platform Plants for the Future.[12]
  • Since 2006 expert to the Steering Council of the European Technology Platform Plants for the Future,[13] member of the Genval Group, which drafted the vision paper,[14] and in 2004 co-chair of the Plants for the Future working group Horizontal Issues.[15] The Genval Group was set up by the European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) and the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), in co-operation with the Commission in 2003 to draft the ETP Plants for the Future 20-year vision document.
  • 2004-07: member of the Project Executive Committee of the EU project SIGMEA[16] (See more details at Detlef Bartsch).
  • since 2005: coordinator and/or partner of/in several GMO biosafety research projects funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); author of several papers published on GMO biosafety topics.
  • 2005-2007: member of the advisory board of GMO Compass[17], then an EU project[18]
  • 2005-09: member of the Management Board[19] and of the Executive Committee[20] of the EU project CO-EXTRA; chair of Working Package 1, "Biological Approaches For Gene Flow Mitigation"[21]
  • 2006-09: coordinator of the EU project BIOSAFENET in cooperation with ISBR.[22] The results of the project are used for the website http://www.gmo-safety.eu,[23] a German project for risk communication organized by the company Genius. At the closing conference of BIOSAFENET in June 2009 in Berlin, ISBR and PRRI also presented their activities.[24]
  • 2006-09: Partner and working package leader in the EU-PRRI project Science4BioReg[25]
  • 2004: the German Federal ministry for consumer protection, food and agriculture (BMVEL) stopped financing the project "Production of marker-gene-free plants using a recombination system (Cre/lox)",[26] in which marker-free GM crops were developed, in order to avoid conflicts of interest. However, the research was continued 2005-08 with GM oilseed rape by Inge Broer from the University of Rostock.[27]

Participation in lobby organisations

  • member of the the German association WGG; a lobby group of scientists to promote the use of plant genetic engineering. Schiemann listed on the only available list of members from its founding year 1998.
  • 1999 Schiemann was one of the founding members of the German association [http://www.finab.de/ FINAB (Association to promote innovative and sustainable agrobiotechnology in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania; Verein zur Förderung innovativer und nachhaltiger Agrobiotechnologie in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). After his membership became public in 2005, and raised political debates, he is not listed as a member on the website anymore.
  • Since 2004, president of the ISBR, member of several of its standing committees and member of the editorial board of its journal [http://www.isbr.info/journal/ Environmental Biosafety Research. (Other committee members of ISBR include Jeremy Sweet and Kristina Sinemus. Klaus Ammann is one of the editors in chief of EBR.)
  • since 2005: member of the Society of Plant Biotechnology, the German branch of the International Association of Plant Tissue culture & Biotechnology (IAPTC & B)
  • since 2005: member of PRRI. He participated at the MOP4 meeting of the Biosafety Protocol (Bonn, 2008) as PRRI member, to present mainly project results from BIOSAFENET.
  • since 2007: member of the IOBC/WPRS working group and co-author of its publication on Tiered Approach (2008). (For details see at Bartsch.)
  • He was on of the speakers at the pro-biotech conference ABIC2004

Direct and indirect involvement in approval procedures for GMOs

The JKI (and the former BBA) is an 'opinion giving' (stellungnehmende) agency involved in approval procedures of GMOs and it advises the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection on issues of the biosafety of GMOs. As chair of the JKI working group on post-market monitoring, Schiemann plays an important role in the development of criteria for monitoring plans, and has together with members of the working group published a draft farmers' questionnaire for the monitoring. As member of the EFSA GMO Panel he has assessed GMOs on EU level, as well as the objections from other memberstates. Schiemann has developed methods for genetic engineering and GM crops, and is a member of the association FINAB that releases GMOs itself and that maintains an S1 lab for genetic engineering. He therefore also is a (potential) applicant for permits for deliberate releases.

Quotes

  • “Based on available data, the transgenic plants that have been tested in tens of thousands of field trials in the last 15 years and that have been commercially cultivated on 175 million hectare in the last years have posed no risks for the environment or human health.” - „Nach bisher vorliegenden Daten gingen von den transgenen Pflanzen, die in den letzten fünfzehn Jahren in zehntausenden Freilandversuchen getestet und in den letzten Jahren auf 175 Mio ha kommerziel angebaut wurden, keine Gefahren für die Umwelt oder die Gesundheit des Menschen aus.“ Akademie-Journal 1/2002, S.39
  • “The spread of a transgene in itself is not a negative effect. However, the safety of the inserted gene has been tested intensively in the approval procedure.” - „Die Ausbreitung eines Transgens per se ist kein negativer Effekt. Die Sicherheit der eingeführten Gene wurde doch im Zulassungsverfahren sehr intensiv geprüft.“ (FAZ 30.4.06)
  • “Co-existence of GM, conventional and organic agriculture and marketing is possible and necessary.” -„Koexistenz von GVO-, konventionellem und Ökoanbau sowie -vermarktung ist möglich und notwendig“ (http://www.transgen.de/pdf/diskurs/schiemann_folien.pdf presentation] 2002

Patents and intellectual properties issues

1996 Schiemann filed the patent WO 98016824 as inventor and owner on genetically manipulated plants with fluorescent proteins. Goal of the genetic manipulation was an easier identification of GM plants in the wild. The patent was filed after Schiemann had already been working for five years for the German public rsearch institute BBA. Since 2000 the patent is considered as withdrawn.

CVs

Notes

  1. Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology and Biosafety, BBA website, accessed 18 Aug 2009
  2. Julius Kühn Institute – Federal Research Institute for Cultivated Plants, Key to Nature website, accessed 18 August 2009
  3. Institute for Biosafety of Genetically Modified Plants, Julius Kühn-Institut website, accessed 18 Aug 2009
  4. Fragebogen für Landwirte zum GVO-Monitoring/Farmers Questionnaire for the Monitoring of GMO (Ergänzung zu den Artikeln im Nachrichtenblatt des Deutschen Pflanzenschutzdienstes 56 (8) & 56 (9) 2004), Julius Kühn-Institut website, accessed 18 Aug 2009
  5. Bekanntmachung eines Bescheides zur Beschränkung des Inverkehrbringens gentechnisch veränderter Organismen nach dem Gentechnikgesetz (BVL 47/2007/4), 3/5/2007, BVL website, accessed 18 Aug 2009
  6. Concept and methods for post-market monitoring of genetically modified plants. Issues not confined to a single Land or crop, GMO Safety website, accessed 18 August 2009
  7. Dr. Joachim SCHIEMANN, Institute for Plant Virology, Microbiology and Biosafety, Technology Foresight Summit 2003, Budapest, accessed 18 August 2009
  8. Out-crossing from transgenic maize and quantifying outcrossing rates, August 15 2002, GMO Safety website of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  9. Concept and methods for post-market monitoring of genetically modified plants. Issues not confined to a single Land or crop, June 10 2005, GMO Safety website of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  10. Partners, GMO RES COM website, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  11. GMO RES COM, GMO RES COM website, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  12. European Technology Platform Plants for the Future, European Technology Platform Plants for the Future website, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  13. Steering Council of the ‘Plants for the Future’ ETP, Plants for the Future website, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  14. Plants for the Future 2025: a European vision for plant genomics and biotechnology, DG for Research, Food Quality and Safety, 2004, p. 25
  15. Working Group – Horizontal Issues, EPSO website, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  16. SIGMEA, INRA website, accessed 19 Aug 2009
  17. home page, GM Compass website, accessed 21 Aug 2009
  18. GMO Compass, European Commission Research - Biosociety website, accessed 21 Aug 2009
  19. Project Management, Coextra website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  20. Project Management, Coextra website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  21. Workpackage 1: Biological Approaches For Gene Flow Mitigation, Coextra website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  22. BIOSAFENET, European Commission Research - Biosociety website, accessed 21 Aug 2009
  23. GMO Safety website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  24. BIOSAFENET conference, GMO Compass website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  25. Science 4 BioReg, PRRI website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  26. Production of marker-gene-free plants using a recombination system (Cre/lox), GMO Safety website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
  27. Obtaining marker-gene-free oilseed rape plants using the Cre/lox system, GMO Safety website, accessed 22 Aug 2009
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