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The Testbiotech Team
The EU Commission will start a new round to convince Member States to agree on new approvals for cultivation of genetically engineered plants, reports that the authorisations will be frozen till 2014 are not confirmed http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUKL6N0ARCX620130122?irpc=932.
Testbiotech has informed Health Commissioner Tonio Borg of 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 (http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/753).
Testbiotech filed a comment on EFSA's Scientific Opinion on the application for the placing on the market of herbicide tolerant genetically modified soybean with an increased content in oleic acid MON 87705 for food and feed uses, import and processing (http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/745).
Testbiotech filed a comment on EFSA's Scientific Opinion on the application for the placing on the market of drought tolerant genetically modified maize MON 87460 for food and feed uses, import and processing (http://testbiotech.org/node/754).
On 29 November, EFSA and COGEM held a joint scientific workshop on the topic ‘Non-target organisms and GM crops: Assessing the effects of Bt proteins’. A booklet with abstracts of the presentations is available at the COGEM website (http://www.cogem.net/index.cfm/en/news/item/latest-scientific-insights-o...).
On 19 December 2012, EFSA published an opinion on an safeguard clause invoked by Hungary on GM potato EH92-527-1 (Amflora). http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3021.htm
Hungary had stopped commercialisation of Amflora potato mainly for the reason that the plant contains an antibiotic resistance gene (nptII). Hungary's authorities claimed that:
- antibiotic resistance genes can be transferred from the food into the intestinal flora, and there is a high risk of gene transfer from the GM potato into the bacteria living in the intestines of animals;
- gene transfer from cultivated GM potato plants in the soil bacteria escalates the multiplication of antibiotic resistance genes in the soil;
- there is a knowledge gap regarding up-to-date data on the prevalence of nptII in soil environments throughout Europe;
- there is a concern regarding the role of kanamycin and neomycin in relation to the treatment of tuberculosis and the possible appearance of resistance.
All points were dismissed by the EFSA GMO Panel. Testbiotech deals with this issue in its recent comment on drought tolerant genetically modified maize MON 87460 (http://testbiotech.org/node/754) showing that the discussion should encompass a broader range of arguments and recent publications.
On 18 December 2012, EFSA published a positive opinion regarding the marketing of genetically modified maize MON 810 with the use of MON 810 pollen as or in food (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3022.htm). The opinion comes as a last step to complete the scope of an application (RX-MON 810) for the marketing of genetically modified maize MON 810 with the use of MON 810 pollen as or in food.
On 17 December 2012, EFSA published a scientific opinion on the PMEM report from BASF on GM potato EH92-527-1 cultivation in 2011 (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3015.htm). EFSA identifies several shortcomings which were already criticised by the authority in its opinion on the Amflora PMEM report in 2010. Basically, BASF simply didn't react to any of EFSA's proposals to improve the quality of the PMEM reports. Notwithstanding this fact, the GMO Panel comes to the conclusion that it didn't identify adverse effects on the environment or human and animal health due to the cultivation of Amflora potato. The cultivation of Amflora was stopped in 2012.
On 11 December 2012, EFSA published scientific opinions updating the risk assessment conclusions and risk management recommendations on maize MON 810 (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3017.htm) and maize Bt11 (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3018.htm).
In this context, EFSA also published a Scientific Opinion supplementing previous conclusions and recommendations on maize Bt11 and MON 810 for cultivation (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3016.htm).