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.
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.
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.
The EU is split on genetically engineered plants. Only one genetical engineered plant is authorized for cultivation in the EU and even that is banned in several countries. Relatively few GM events are imported as food/feed. The risk assessment of the EFSA GMO Panel is under continuous criticism. But still the daily work of the EFSA goes on and more and more GMO applications are assessed.
This is why EFSA GMO Watch was set up to monitor the work of the EFSA GMO Panel.