According to research carried out by Testbiotech, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already given non-regulated status to more than 20 plants genetically engineered with so-called genome editing techniques. None of the applications registered at USDA were referred for further more detailed assessment. The Testbiotech report published today shows that there are however significant differences in methods of production, traits and risks of the non-regulated plants in comparison to those derived from conventional breeding.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has signalled that it is in favour of approving further controversial genetically engineered maize variants produced by Bayer (Monsanto). The recent EFSA opinions published in January 2019, deal with two approval applications for maize developed through cross-breeding to combine several genetically engineered traits. The plants are resistant to up to four groups of herbicides (glyphosate, glufosinate, 2,4-D and AOPP) and produce up to six insecticides.
Yesterday the EU Parliament adopted with a large majority several resolutions against approvals for genetically engineered maize, oilseed rape and cotton. The resolutions were tabled by a cross party group of MEPS, initiated by the Green group. The resolutions call for higher standards in risk assessment and the strengthening of democratic decision making. The plants produced by Bayer and Syngenta are resistant to herbicides and produce insecticidal toxins, with some of them producing these in combination.
Just before Christmas, the EU Commission approved the import of a Bayer / Monsanto maize that produces six insecticidal Bt toxins. The decision was taken despite recent scientific findings indicating substantial risks to the immune system from Bt toxins. Furthermore, there may be risks to health from residues left from spraying the maize with large amounts of the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate that the plants are resistant to. Combinatorial effects of the toxins together with the residues from spraying with herbicides remain untested.