German civil society groups urge parliament and the government to fight the influence of industry
Today a broad coalition of civil society groups in Germany are starting a petition calling on the German Parliament to strengthen the position of independent risk research especially in the field of biotechnology. “Despite criticism raised by many sides, the German government has not yet taken any action. Our petition gives the German parliament an opportunity to send a clear signal”, says Ruth Tippe for the Gene-Ethic Foundation which officially filed the petition.
14000 signatures against patents held by US company Intrexon
After more than 14.000 people signed a petition, several organisations have filed an opposition against the European patent EP1572862 held by the US company, Intrexon. The patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2012 and claims many animal species including chimpanzees. According to the patent, the company wants to manipulate the animals with artificial DNA synthesized in partial analogy to the genome of insects. Intrexon is working in the field of “synthetic biology” and aims to produce animals with changed gene regulation to sell to the pharmaceutical industry. Several organisations filed a similar opposition in 2012 against a similar Intrexon patent. There are several ex-Monsanto employees e.g. Robert B. Shapiro currently serving either on the board of the company or in management positions. Intrexon further holds around 50 percent of shares in Aquabounty, a company that wants to market genetically engineered salmon in the US.
EU project GRACE holds conference in Berlin
Today, the participants of the international research project GRACE (GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence) meet in Berlin. Future guidelines for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants are the centre of this project, and its outcomes could have far-reaching consequences for approval procedure and risk research in the EU. A Testbiotech report published today shows significant conflicts of interest between leading GRACE experts and the biotech industry. Testbiotech is calling for the project to be stopped and an independent review carried out.