Several thousand e-mails have been sent to political decision makers regarding the market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize, SmartStax. Although a vote was taken by the EU Member States in Brussels yesterday, a decision was not actually reached. Several thousand supporters from Germany have already signed a petition started by a coalition of NGO’s in May to support independent risk research. Testbiotech will continue to support both the action against SmartStax and the petition in the German Parliament.
8. June 2013 Recently, a non-authorised line of genetically engineered wheat was found in a field in Oregon. Currently it is unclear why the wheat was growing there. The wheat, which proved to be Monsanto wheat MON81700, was developed in the 1990s. Monsanto, however, stopped the commercialisation process for this crop in 2004. The plants contain a gene (cp4epsps) that makes them tolerant to herbicides with glyphosate as the active ingredient. The cp4epsps gene is also present in other herbicide tolerant crops such as soybean, maize, oilseed rape or cotton.
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.
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.