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.
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.
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 According to this draft Guidance, EFSA plans to assess the risks of products such as milk, meat, eggs in a way very similar to that used for genetically engineered plants.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.
On 21 September 2011, Testbiotech handed over a petition with nearly 9000 signatures to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Berlin. This led to a longer exchange of opinions with the Head of Directorate Life Sciences, Petra Steiner-Hoffmann. The ministry will now take the demands in the petition into account during further discussions. So far, no decision has been taken on specific regulations concerning Synthetic Biology, the petitioners were told.