Julius Kühn-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen (JKI), Germany

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Julius Kühn-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen (JKI), Germany

The Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI) is

both a Federal Authority in its own right and a Federal Research Centre under the jurisdiction of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). JKI's official tasks are defined by the German Plant Protection Act and the Gene Technology Act. The 15 institutes within JKI are involved in several fields of agronomic research (basic to applied). JKI has branches at 11 locations in Germany with approx. 1200 staff members including about 250 scientists.

Institute for Biosafety of Genetically Modified Plants (SG)

The activities of the Institute SG deal with biosafety research, risk assessment and monitoring of GM organisms, and co-existence of cultivation systems with and without GM plants. The Institute is involved in the authorization of the deliberate release and placing on the market of GM organisms. The advice SG is providing for political decisions by BMELV is based on own research and a comprehensive knowledge of literature including continuous analysis and reviewing of biosafety data.

Staff members:

  • Prof. Joachim Schiemann, PhD
  • Ralf Wilhelm, PhD

Joachim Schiemann, head of the Institute SG, has been active for 20 years in the field of GMO biosafety research as well as risk assessment, risk management and risk communication of GM plants. He has coordinated several national and EU-funded cluster projects on biosafety research. He has been President of the International Society for Biosafety Research (ISBR) and member of several national and international bodies dealing with GMO biosafety, e.g. OECD, EFSA.

Ralf Wilhelm leads the JKI working group on GMO monitoring. His interdisciplinary research activities refer to the development and evaluation of concepts and strategies for the monitoring and assessment of GMO impacts. He managed several national and international research projects, and represents the JKI in national boards on GMO biosafety.

Both participated in recent EU-funded projects (SIGMEA, CO-EXTRA, BIOSAFENET, PRICE) and are trainers in international courses on biosafety topics.

Tasks / work package participation:

  • Project coordinator
  • WP8: Recommendations for (systematic) reviews (WP leader)
  • WP5: Reviews of environmental impacts
  • WP9: Representation of the project
  • WP10: Management and administration

Selected publications:

  • Wilhelm R, Sanvido O, Castanera P, Schmidt K, Schiemann J (2009) Monitoring the commercial cultivation of Bt maize in Europe – conclusions and recommendations for future monitoring practice. Environ. Biosafety Res. 8:219-225
  • Wolt JD, Keese P, Raybould A, Fitzpatrick JW, Burachik M, Gray A, Olin SS, Schiemann J, Sears M, Wu F (2010) Problem formulation in the environmental risk assessment for genetically modified plants. Transgenic Res. 19:425-436
  • Devos Y, Lheureux K, Schiemann J (2010) Regulatory oversight and safety assessment of plants with novel traits. In: Kempken F, Jung C (eds), Genetic modification of plants – agriculture, horticulture & forestry, Series: Biotechnology in Agriculture and Forestry, Vol. 64. Springer, p 553-574.
  • Smit E, Bakker PAHM, Bergmans H, Bloem J, Griffiths BS, Rutgers M, Sanvido O, Singh BK, van Veen H, Wilhelm R, Glandorf DCM (2011) General Surveillance of the soil ecosystem: an approach to monitoring unexpected effects of GMOs. Ecological Indicators 14:107-113
  • Devos Y, Craig W, Schiemann J: Transgenic Crops, Risk Assessment and Regulatory Framework in the European Union. Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology, Springer 2011, accepted

Data Processing Unit

The data processing unit is the IT service unit of the JKI with the following tasks:

Planning, further development and maintenance of central IT systems, IT and communication network infrastructure and internet accesses, IT services for research and management. Participation in IT-related research projects in the domains protection of plants (e.g. information system for the risk assessment of plant protection agents (RibeweB), plant genetic resources (documentation, evaluation) and bioinformatics.

Staff member:

  • Steffen Kecke

Steffen Kecke leads the data processing unit for 19 years. His research interests and expertises are IT-management in scientific environments, biometrical methods and data management, software engineering and project management (management and integration of scientific data, WEB applications, information systems for plant genetic resources), integration of scientific standard software like LIMS, workflow management systems, statistical software (SAS).

Tasks / work package participation:

  • WP6: Database implementation and maintenance

Selected publications and project references