According to a proposal of the EU Commission, genetically engineered maize 1507 will be approved for cultivation in the EU. The Member States of the EU are due to vote on maize 1507 within the next few weeks, and the European Parliament is currently preparing a resolution for next Tuesday. Maize 1507 is genetically engineered to produce a Bt toxin and was made resistant to the herbicide glufosinate. As a new report of Testbiotech shows, there is no doubt that maize 1507 poses a high level of risk to the environment.
Testbiotech report shows substantial failures in work of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and in decision making of the EU Commission
The European Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate (SANCO) has short-listed a Director of the biggest EU food industry lobby group FoodDrinkEurope among the candidates to the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Ms. Beate Kettlitz works in a leading position for the lobby group, which represents all major European food and drink corporations.
Call for clear ethical standards
A joint letter from twelve organisations sent to investors in companies filing patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees was published today. Companies filing patents on genetically engineered great apes include Altor BioScience (US), Bionomics (Australia) and Intrexon (US). Research conducted at the European Patent Office in Munich shows that five patents claiming genetically engineered great apes have already been granted to some of these companies, and a dozen further patent applications have been filed.
Contamination in biodiversity will burden following generations
Today Testbiotech published the first global overview showing how genetically engineered plants such as maize, rice, cotton, oilseed rape, bentgrass and poplar trees are spreading uncontrollably. This is happening in regions and countries such as the USA and Canada, Middle America, Japan, China, Australia and Europe. In many cases, the plants have escaped far beyond the fields into the environment. In some regions, the transgenes have already moved into populations of wild relatives.
Maize 1507 for cultivation to be decided soon
The EU Commission today authorised the controversial genetically engineered maize SmartStax for food and feed. The decision was taken despite thousands of protest mails being sent to the Commission. Testbiotech and experts from EU Member States have previously pointed out many flaws in the risk assessment performed by Monsanto, DowAgroSciences and the European Food Safety Authority, (EFSA). Testbiotech will now file an official complaint against the Commission decision.
Testbiotech publishes findings from investigations in Argentina
Today, Testbiotech will publish its findings from a pilot project initiated to analyse herbicide residues in soybean crops grown in Argentina. The samples were taken shortly before the harvest was due, and analysed by a laboratory at the University of Buenos Aires. The results showed surprisingly high levels of residue in plants that had been sprayed with glyphosate. Almost 100mg/kg were found in one of the samples. In seven of eleven samples, the level of residue was above the international maximum residue level of 20 mg/ kg allowed for food and feed products. The samples were taken from fields in Argentina in regions that are known for the cultivation of genetically engineered soybeans. Nearly all the soybeans grown in Argentina are genetically engineered, and made resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (brands such as Roundup). These soybeans were originally developed by the US company Monsanto.
How to prevent uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered plants?
A legal dossier commissioned by Testbiotech and published today highlights substantial gaps in the current EU regulation of genetically engineered organisms. According to the dossier, it cannot be ruled out that genetically engineered plants are allowed for cultivation in the EU, even if they can spread without control in the environment. In the light of these findings, Testbiotech is urging a strengthening of the precautionary principle.
US company to offer methods for the selection blue eyes, longer life and athletic properties for offspring
The US company 23andMe has received a US patent for the selection of human sperm cells and oocytes (US8543339). Genetic data can be collected from which potential parents can choose donors according to criteria such as eye colour, longer life span and athletic properties.
Monsanto, the EFSA, the UK Government and the EU Commission all joining forces against civil society
Monsanto, the British Government, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the EU Commission are joining forces in EU Court proceedings to prevent risky genetically engineered soybeans from being withdrawn from the food market.
Plants can no longer be withdrawn from the environment
Today Testbiotech has published a global overview of countries where there has been an uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered oilseed rape (canola). The countries include Canada, the US, Japan, Australia and Europe. In many cases the plants have escaped far beyond the fields into the environment. In some cases, the transgenes have moved into populations of wild relatives. Furthermore, new combinations of DNA constructs have been found which were never approved for release into the environment. The overview has been published to coincide with the international conference (ABIC) in Calgary, where agro-biotech industry representatives are gathering.
Decision concerns at least four applications for insecticidal and herbicide tolerant maize
Monsanto has now withdrawn at least four applications after it announced that it would no longer push for the cultivation of new genetically engineered plants in the EU. The decisions concern genetically engineered maize (Mon89034, NK603 x MON810, MON89034 x Nk603, Mon89034x Mon88017) which produce insecticidal proteins and/ or is made resistant to herbicide glyphosate („Roundup“). This information is derived from the register of European Food Safety Authority EFSA. There are more applications pending from Monsanto for transgenic plants such as maize, soy, sugar beet which still seem to be valid.
Bionomics granted patent on human genes and genetically engineered great apes
The European Patent Office (EPO) has again granted a patent that covers genetically engineered chimpanzees and other non-human primates. EP1364025 was granted on 31 July 2013 to Bionomics (Australia). The company claims human genes presumed to play a role in the prevention of cancer as an invention. According to the patent, the genes will be used to genetically manipulate the chimpanzees. As a result of the genetic manipulation, the great apes can have a higher risk of developing cancer.
Experiments may affect the production of olives
The UK company Oxitec is planning to release genetically engineered olive flies into the environment in Spain (Catalonia) and Italy. The male insects are genetically manipulated in such a way that female descendants will die as larvae. The intention is to reduce the populations of olive flies. The larvae of these insects live inside the olives and can cause substantial economical damage. Oxitec plans to release an unspecified number of its genetically engineered male insects in Spain, near the town of Tarragona. The field trial will be netted to try to prevent the flies from escaping.
Ten new variants of genetically engineered maize on the agenda for 11 July
On 11 July, the EU Commission and representatives from EU Member States will meet again to vote on the market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize SmartStax for use in food and feed. SmartStax is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences crop plant that produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. Together with SmartStax, another nine new variants of genetically engineered maize will be on the agenda in July, all of them produce insecticidal toxins and are resistant to herbicides. One is sold under the brand name Powercore. Furthermore, pollen from genetically engineered maize MON810 is about to receive an authorisation for usage in food such as honey.
Monsanto´s genetically engineered maize produces six different insecticides
On 10 June, the EU Commission and representatives from EU Member States are set to discuss and probably vote on the market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize SmartStax for use in food and feed. SmartStax is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product that produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. Although dossiers from the industry showed substantial flaws its market authorisation was viewed favourably by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2010. For example, combinatorial effects between the insecticidal toxins and the residues from spraying were never investigated. So far, SmartStax is not authorised for sale on the EU market. In December 2012, Testbiotech raised the alarm warning that the maize might have already entered the market illegally. Instead of stopping imports, the Commission is now pressing ahead by trying to force a decision through allowing SmartStax for use in food and feed.
European Food Safety Authority mishandled a major revolving doors case with biotechnology company Syngenta
In a May 23d ruling, the EU Ombudsman stated that EFSA (European Food Safety Authority ) failed to take adequate measures to prevent conflict of interests arising from a major 'revolving doors' case in 2008.
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.
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.
Environmental organisations and scientists jointly bring the case to the European Court of Justice
The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), the Society for Ecological Research, the foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection, the Foundation on Future Farming, the non-profit organisation Sambucus and Testbiotech are challenging a decision made by the EU Commission to authorise a new genetically engineered Monsanto soybean at the European Court of Justice.
A broad coalition against another patent on chimpanzees
Thirteen organisations from Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain are about to file a joint opposition against a patent on genetically engineered chimpanzees granted to the US company, Altor. Patent EP1409646 was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in June 2012. It allows chimpanzees to be manipulated to make their DNA similar to that of humans, and then used in pharmaceutical research. The joint opposition argues that this patent violates ethical provisions in patent law.
SmartStax produces six different insecticides
Munich/ Brussels 20 December 2012. Testbiotech has informed the new Commissioner Tonio Borg about its suspicions that the genetically engineered maize, SmartStax, has been imported into the EU for years without legal authorisation. It is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product, which produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. SmartStax was assessed by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA in 2010, but the results of the assessment were controversial and the maize was not authorised.
Patent violates ethical boundaries of European patent law
Eleven organisations from Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain have filed a joint opposition against a patent on genetically engineered chimpanzees granted to the US company Intrexon. Patent EP1456346 was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in February 2012. The animals will be manipulated with synthetic DNA originating from insects and are intended for use in pharmaceutical research. The joint opposition argues that this patent violates ethical provisions in patent law.
A briefing published today by public interest groups highlights how regulatory decisions on GM insects in Europe and around the world are being biased by corporate interests (1).
Bias in assessing scientific evidence for risks of genetically engineered plants
In a new backgrounder, Testbiotech shows that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) uses double standards in assessing scientific publications. According to an analysis presented today, the authority applies differing standards to assess risks of genetically engineered plants and EFSA´s findings appear to be influenced by assumptions.
Initiative urges more respect for animals
In 2012 the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted three patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees as recent research carried out by No Patents On Life shows. The animals are intended for use in pharmaceutical research. A joint initiative of several organisations is preparing legal oppositions against these patents and urging their legal prohibition. They are warning that such patents can create commercial incentives to run more animal experiments with chimpanzees and calling for animals to be treated with more respect.
EFSA opinion not sufficient to prove safety of relevant products
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published their opinion on a French study that found severe impacts on the health of rats fed with genetically engineered maize NK603 or exposed to a low dosage of herbicides. The authorities conclude that the study does not provide final evidence of health risks.
Joint action of environmental organisations and scientists against decision of the EU Commission
Several organisations such as the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) are filing a complaint against a decision of the EU Commission to authorise a new genetically engineered Monsanto soybean. The soybeans will be mostly sold and grown in Brazil under the brand name Intacta, the harvest will be imported to the EU for use in food and feed. The new genetically engineered soybean expresses an insecticidal protein and is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup.
EFSA requested to publish new opinions
Recent investigations reveal that new approvals for the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Europe in 2012 are unlikely. The Commission returned the dossiers for three maize lines to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). MON810, Bt11 and maize 1507 have all been considered safe by EFSA numerous times. In a letter to the EU Commission, EFSA announces a new opinion on maize MON810 till December.
But new legal dossier shows current authorisation practice violates EU law
The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has for the first time given a positive opinion on the cultivation of genetically engineered soy in the EU. Now the EU Commission and Member States have to make a decision on final market authorisation. The applicant, US company Monsanto, wants to sell its seeds for herbicide tolerant Roundup Ready soy to European farmers. Currently, the genetically engineered soy can be imported but not grown.
Conflicts of interest at government authorities and German Research Foundation (DFG)
A new Testbiotech report reveals some, at least partially, hidden networks enabling the biotech industry to influence state authorities and research institutions dealing with genetically engineered plants. The authorities involved include the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the research institutes of the German ministry of agriculture (BMELV) and a committee at the German Research Foundation (DFG). The report identifies 17 experts with conflicts of interest.
Company Ovasort holds a patent on sex selection
Testbiotech has filed an opposition to a patent (EP1263521) held by Ovasort (UK). The patent covers human sperm cells selected for their sex intended for use in in-vitro fertilisation and the production of female offspring. The patent violates European Patent law, which prohibits patents on human germ cells and the development of the human body. Nevertheless, the European Patent Office has granted such patents several times.
Upon request of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Diána Bánáti has resigned on 8 May as member and Chair of the Management Board with immediate effect. She has decided to take up a professional position at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI).
EFSA did not stop revolving doors
For the first time, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) admits that it did not take the necessary action to stop revolving doors. EFSA states that “regrettably” the authority did not follow up the relevant information. Further, the authority acknowledges that it has strengthened internal rules in response.
Cultivation of new genetically engineered maize could cause problems in the EU
Today Testbiotech is publishing a new backgrounder warning that the insecticide producing genetically engineered maize MON88017 might help pest insects become even more harmful. Researchers in a US laboratory have shown that the pest insects, known as corn rootworm, may not only become resistant to the insecticide producing maize plants, but the development of the larvae can be speeded up and fertility higher. Thus, commercial cultivation of these plants could result in helping the pest insects that are also known as the 'one billion dollar bug', to spread even quicker in the fields.
Complaint filed with the EU Ombudsman
Testbiotech, supported by Corporate Observatory Europe (CEO), is today filing a new complaint with the EU Ombudsman questioning the independence of the chair of the panel of experts tasked with assessing the risk of new genetically engineered plants entering the European Union. Harry Kuiper has chaired the GMO Panel at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) since 2003 but has also maintained strong ties with International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) including taking part in a task force led by a Monsanto employee.
The European Commission has recommended that one of Europe's chief food lobbyists – who is also a former Monsanto employee – sits on the management board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Testbiotech and Corporate Europe Observatory say that the appointment of Mella Frewen, lobby chief at FoodDrinkEurope (previously known as the CIAA) will create a conflict of interests for the food agency's management board.
Testbiotech and Gen-ethisches Netzwerk are calling for an official opinion
The NGOs Testbiotech and Gen-ethische Netzwerk (GeN) have today published an open letter addressed to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, calling on her to stop the creation of new variations of the bird flu virus and back limited access to genetic data. Scientists have been able to manufacture an H5N1 type virus in the laboratory, which is extremely dangerous for mammals. The researchers agreed on 20 January 2012 to a moratorium in order to give the public an opportunity to take up a position on this issue.
Bt protein toxic to human cells
Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered plants can be detrimental to human cells. This is a result of recent research led by researchers at the University of Caen (France). Their experiments showed that toxins produced in, for example, the genetically engineered maize MON810, can significantly impact the viability of human cells. The effects were observed with relatively high concentrations of the toxins, nevertheless there is cause for concern. For the first time, experiments have now shown that they can have an toxic effect to human cells.
Rising doubts about safety of genetically engineered plants
In a letter to Commissioner Dalli, Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK give new evidence of EFSA´s failure to perform risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. A detailed analysis of original documents as filed by Monsanto for their genetically engineered maize sold under brand of Genuity VT Triple PRO shows that crucial documents do not meet the standards of so called Good Laboratory Practice (GLP standards).
Testbiotech offers overview of EU authorisations
Testbiotech is today publishing a database designed to give an overview of the risks associated with genetically engineered plants allowed for marketing in the European Union, or being about to be authorised soon. The current version of the database, called PlantGeneRisk, gives an overview of thirteen genetically engineered crops, four soy plants and nine maize plants. Ten of these plants already have EU authorisation for use, import and usage in food and feed, one of them is also allowed for cultivation.
European Food Safety Authority official moved to biotech industry
The European Ombudsman has ruled in favour of a complaint filed by Testbiotech against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its approach to the 'revolving doors'. The case concerns a former senior staff member at EFSA, Dr. Suzy Renckens, who was head of the unit responsible for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. Dr Renckens then moved to a job at Syngenta, a company that produces and markets these plants.
“Black List” of European Patents published
Today Testbiotech is publishing a “Black List” of European Patents that have already been granted. Ten examples, granted since 2009, were selected for the list in cooperation with the Initiative “No Patents on Life”. It is shown that even chimpanzees have been patented after being genetically manipulated to suffer from epilepsy so that they can be used by the pharmaceutical industry (EP1852505).
New publication shows inadequacies in risk assessment
A new publication by an international research consortium has revealed several inadequacies in current approaches to risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. The publication deals with methods used for measurement in so-called Bt-plants. These plants produce an insecticidal protein ( a so-called Bt toxin) that originates from soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). One example is maize MON810 which is cultivated in some countries in the EU, many others can be imported and used in food and feed.
Discussion amongst experts from EU member states in Brussels
Today experts from EU Member States will meet in Brussels to discuss two applications for marketing genetically engineered soybeans developed by Monsanto and Bayer. Both kinds of soybean have been engineered to be tolerant to herbicides, so that they can be sprayed directly with glyphosate (known as Roundup) or glufosinate (known as Liberty or Basta) without being damaged. As a consequence, residues from the herbicide absorbed by the plant tissues remain in the plants. The marketing applications cover import and use in food and feed.
European Food Safety Authority under fire because of strong ties with industry
Civil society groups will raise concerns about the independence of the European Food Safety Authority at a key stakeholder meeting on Wednesday 12 October, following a series of allegations concerning conflicts of interest and close ties to industry.
European Food Safety Agency EFSA prepares first Guidance for risk assessment for food from genetically engineered animals
The European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, is for the first time preparing for the authorisation of food derived from genetically engineered animals. After a period of consultation, today is the last day for comments on a first draft of the new EFSA Guidance that will be used to perform risk assessment on relevant products. According to this draft Guidance, EFSA plans to assess the risks of products such as milk, meat, eggs in a way very similar to that used for genetically engineered plants. Issues such as animal welfare and consumer interests are not taken into account.
European Food Authority EFSA in favour of market approval
The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has recently published new favorable opinions on two genetically engineered soy. In their dossiers EFSA for the first time confirms unintended changes in the composition of the components of genetically engineered plants. The invasive methods used in genetic engineering cause disturbances in plant metabolism in regard to content of fatty acids, amino acids (Dupont/Pioneer, soy 356043) and vitamin E (Monsanto, soy MON87701).
Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK formally request withdrawal of EU market authorisation of Monsanto´s genetically engineered maize Genuity VT Triple PRO Corn with synthetic toxins.
The non-profit organisations Testbiotech (Germany) and GeneWatch UK have submitted a formal request to the European Commission re-examine market authorisation of a genetically engineered maize produced by Monsanto sold under brand Genuity VT Triple PRO Corn (event MON89034 x MON 88017) that produces a synthetic toxin, intended to kill insect pests. This maize was approved for usage in food and feed by the EU Commission on 17th of June. It produces a combination of three different insecticidal toxins, one of which is synthesised artificially.
Risk assessment of genetically engineered plants undermined by industry and EFSA
In a new report, Testbiotech examines and publishes data from industry. The data were prepared by industry and presented to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the risk assessment of a genetically engineered maize. The material was leaked to Testbiotech at beginning of 2011. It concerns a type of maize called SmartStax. Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences developed the plants, which are derived from crosses between several genetically engineered plants. SmartStax produces six different insecticidal toxins and is tolerant to two herbicides.
Just how risky are the toxic compounds in genetically engineered plants?
Testbiotech is warning that toxic compounds found in genetically engineered plants are increasingly burdening the food chain. Particular reasons for concern are raised about residues from herbicides and insecticides. Though it is known that the amount of residues in the plants is increasing, there are hardly any controls and risk assessment is insufficient. The report was commissioned by Ulrike Hoefken, a Green Member of the German Parliament.
Irreführende Angaben zur staatlichen Förderung, Verharmlosung der Risiken
Das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung macht irreführende Angaben zur finanziellen Förderung der Synthetischen Biologie. Auf eine Anfrage des Bundestagsabgeordneten Rene Röspel (SPD) antwortet das Ministerium von Annette Schavan (BT-Drs. 17/4898), dass es seit 2005 keine Forschungs- und Entwicklungsprojekte in diesem Bereich gefördert habe. Nach Recherchen von Testbiotech ist diese Aussage nicht korrekt.
EU Commissioner for Trade: Products from offspring of cloned animals already on the market
A non-public EU Commission paper confirms that food from offsprings of cloned animals are already on the European market. The animals get into the market via the import of breeding material from the US. The EU Trade Commission argues that in future too these products should not be regulated, labelled or controlled for unexpected risks, because so far no systems have been established for registering the animals in exporting countries such as the US.
Commercial planting in India currently barred
Plans for India’s first genetically engineered crop for human consumption have triggered a safety report that reveals signs of food toxicity. According to this study prepared independently from industry, there are serious indications that the consumption of this genetically engineered (Bt) eggplant (also called brinjal in India) can cause inflammation, reproductive disorders and liver damage.
Call for independent risk research
A report presented today by Testbiotech in a media conference in Munich, reveals severe conflicts of interest at the European Food Safety Authority EFSA. The chair of EFSA´s expert GMO Panel responsible for risk the assessment of genetically engineered plants, has been working for years with a so-called Task Force group at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). A member of staff from Monsanto heads the Task Force, and all its members are from biotech corporations.
Experts from the European Food Safety Authority are collaborating with companies such as Monsanto
There is close collaboration between experts on the GMO Panel of the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and the biotech industry. The chair of the GMO expert panel which is dealing with risk assessment of genetically engineered plants, Harry Kuiper, and a second expert from the same panel, Gijs Kleter, have for years been working with the International Life Science Institute (ILSI).
Food market to be flooded with products not tested for health risks
European Food Safety Agency EFSA has given a positive opinion on the authorisation of genetically engineered maize that inherits eight technically inserted gene sequences. The maize (corn) with brand name SmartStax, will be authorised for use in food and feed within the EU. It produces six different insecticidal Bt-proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences developed the plants, which are derived from crosses between several genetically engineered plants. Plants produced like this are called 'stacked events'.
The risk to the environment from artificial organisms could get out of control
Artificial organisms are being developed to produce new kinds of biofuels with a higher efficiency, so called “synthifuels”. Testbiotech is today releasing a new report on Synthetic Biology, which draws attention to the economic interests behind synthifuels and the risk associated with synthetic Organisms.
Traces of genetically engineered maize and soy in goats, fish and pigs
A recent Testbiotech survey shows that DNA fragments from transgenic plants are increasingly found in animal tissue such as milk, inner organs and muscles. Most recently, in April 2010, scientists from Italy reported DNA sequences stemming from genetically engineered soy in milk from goats. These DNA fragments are presumably, entering the blood stream from the gut and then from there reaching the udder and the milk. Traces of specific DNA were also identified in kids fed with the goat’s milk.
Testbiotech calls for new concept in risk assessment
Recent research by Swiss scientists has shown some alarming effects in genetically engineered wheat. The wheat grew normally and had better resistance to a certain fungal disease in the greenhouse, but the metabolism of the plants went out of control after being exposed to environmental conditions. The plants were severely affected by the extremely toxic fungal disease (ergot disease) and yield was lowered by up to 50 percent. Testbiotech is calling for genetically engineered plants to undergo comprehensive 'stress tests' before they are released into the environment.
Testbiotech report presented by the Greens in European Parliament
The expert-group Testbiotech calls for much stricter standards in the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. A report prepared by Testbiotech on behalf of the Greens in the European Parliament is being presented in Strasbourg today. The report analyses the draft guidelines for the environmental risk assessment of genetically engineered plants that have been drawn up by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and are currently under discussion.
International appeal launched
Testbiotech has issued warnings on the risks posed by synthetic biology to the environment and has launched an international appeal demanding strict legal regulations. The awareness of technical developments which allow the creation of artificial life forms have led to this call for higher standards to protect human health and the environment. The release of synthetic organisms into the environment must be prevented, and companies dealing in this kind of technology must be subjected to permanent and effective monitoring.
Testbiotech report warns market getting out of control
Material from cloned animals and their offspring is likely to be on the European market already. There is currently no legal regulation which would effectively exclude these imports. No public register is available to provide transparency if cloned animals, their offspring or breeding material is imported into the EU.
EFSA acting irresponsibly says Testbiotech
A recent Testbiotech report showed that the risks associated with Bt maize 1507, which is about to be authorised for cultivation in the EU, were incorrectly assessed by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). Despite the fact that this type of maize has an an extremely high concentration of insecticide in its pollen the EFSA did not request any investigations be carried out on butterflies or other prevalent insects in Europe.
Merck Serono company even filed patents on transplantation of human organs and embryos
German based NGO Testbiotech has filed an opposition against a patent held by the Merck Serono company at the European Patent Office in Munich, Germany. Patent EP 1794287 covers a process for the production and use of human oocytes (egg cells). This claim is considered as being in conflict with European Patent law, which excludes patents on the human body at the various stages of its development.
Testbiotech warns that fields will turn into battlefields
Large-scale cultivation of genetically engineered corn is causing the spread of a new pest in the US Corn Belt. The western bean cutworm infests the tips of the corncobs. Massive damage is being reported from those regions where the corn MON810 (sold as YieldGard by company of Monsanto) is grown on large scale.
NGOs file complaints to EU Ombudsman and Commission
The Germany-based NGO Testbiotech has today filed an official complaint with the European Ombudsman against EFSA, the EU's food safety agency. The complaint targets EFSA's decision to allow Suzy Renckens, head of EFSA's GMO Unit, to become a lobbyist for biotech giant Syngenta, without any 'cooling off' period or other restrictions. Ms Renckens move to become a leading lobbyist for one of the major biotech companies in Europe implies an obvious conflict of interest.
Testbiotech warns that EU legislation will be eroded
The EU Commission is planning to adopt large parts of the European Food Authority’s (EFSA) guidelines on the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants as an official part of EU regulations. The EFSA guidelines are controversial and widely disputed in public. They have been heavily criticized from many sides. Nevertheless, in future large parts of these guidelines might become the official interpretation of EU legislation in this context. EU regulations (e.g.
Testbiotech warns about new wave of patent applications
Today the European Patent Office in Munich is granting a patent on a cloning technology (EP 1711599) that was used by the team working with the controversial Korean researcher Hwang Woo-Suk. In comparison to the original application, the patent as granted is substantially reduced and now only covers the medium used for growing the cells. The patent was applied for in 2004 and originally claimed methods for producing and using of human embryos for the production of embryonic stem cells.
Experts at Testbiotech have filed a statement to the EU Commission on an opinion given by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The statement concerns the genetically engineered oilseed rape GT73 produced by the US company Monsanto. This oilseed rape is genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate (also known under its brand name Roundup). The EFSA delivered a favourable opinion to allow further imports for use in the food chain. GT73 was assessed once before by the EFSA in 2004 (for details see: EFSA GMO watch, link).
Joint letter sent by NGOs to alert the EU Commission
Four NGOs, Testbiotech, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO Brussels), Friends of the Earth Europe (FOE), and Lobbycontrol are now jointly addressing the EU Commission about a scandal involving a leading member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) who moved directly into the agribusiness company Syngenta. They are calling for a thorough investigation of the circumstances and urging the commission to take immediate action.
Authorities react only after Testbiotech disclosures
The former head of the GMO-panel at the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, Suzy Renckens, has moved directly into the genetic engineering industry without any objections or restrictions being imposed by the authority. This was revealed in documents sent by the EFSA upon request to the group of experts at Testbiotech, Germany.
Monsanto and Cargill withdraw joint application after EFSA concerns
The company of Renessen (a Monsanto and Cargill international joint venture) withdrew its application for market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize LY038. The decision was taken in April 2009, but was made public just recently by several stakeholders. According to documents received by Testbiotech e. V., the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, raised safety concerns related to the maize. Prior to the withdrawal the EFSA wrote several letters to Renessen asking for more information on the risk assessment of this product.
Testbiotech sees clash with ethical boundaries
In July 2009 the European Patent Office granted the Swiss company Merck Serono a patent on the ripening process of human egg cells including their use in in vitro fertilisation treatment. Once the patent was granted Merck Serono not only had a monopoly on the egg ripening process but also exclusive rights on the usage of the human eggs cells. Testbiotech believes that this new patent raises questions on the ethical boundaries of patent law.
Scientific coordinator of GMO panel moves to Syngent
Munich/ Parma - A leading staff member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has quit to work in industry. Suzy Renckens, scientific coordinator of the GMO panel, officially represented Syngenta in an expert hearing at EU level in 2008. She now holds a position there as Head of Biotech Regulatory Affairs for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The Swiss company Syngenta is one of the world’s leading producers of genetically engineered plants.
Initiative for more transparency in the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants
Today Testbiotech starts its EFSA GMO Watch Newsletter project. The newsletter will give an overview of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) activities concerning genetically engineered plants. Current reports from the EFSA and new applications from industry are the focus of this information service. The newsletter is directed towards journalists and interested parties. Testbiotech e. V. has further background information on its website (www.testbiotech.org/efsa/newsletter).
Experts at Testbiotech call for introduction of crash tests
Straßburg and Munich. - The experts at Testbiotech are for the first time going public with their new risk assessment concept for transgenic plants. Their report reveals a lack of safety testing in the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. Safety testing needs to be updated to reflect current research standards. Testbiotech calls for the introduction of crash tests for genetically engineered plants.