The next round in the legal battle against patents held by a US company on genetically engineered chimpanzees has now started. After the European Patent Office (EPO) rejected joint oppositions against patents EP1572862 and EP1456346, the opponents are appealing the decision. Intrexon has claimed genetically engineered mice, rats, rabbits, cats, dogs, cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and even chimpanzees as its invention. The animals are supposedly manipulated with some kind of 'gene switch' that targets gene activity in the mammals.
In a letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Testbiotech has requested that experts with strong affiliations to industry are removed from the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). Furthermore, the standards for avoiding conflict of interests within this body need to be raised substantially. The letter was written and sent in response to a recent assessment of the herbicide glyphosate carried out by the JMPR. The JMPR, which is jointly organised by WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), came to the conclusion that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer.
The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has scheduled a hearing for the 12 May on legal action brought against the import of the genetically engineered Monsanto soybeans (T-77/13). MON87701 x MON89788 soybeans were authorised in the EU for use in food and feed. They are grown predominantly in Brazil and sold under the brand name Intacta. These plants have a unique combination of two genetically engineered traits: They express a so-called insecticidal Bt toxin and are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known under trade names such as Roundup.
Testbiotech has filed an opposition against Patent EP2328918 issued to the Max Planck Society, based in Munich. This patent claims genetically engineered animals, even including primates as “inventions”. Testbiotech believes the patent constitutes an unacceptable violation of ethical boundaries. In a letter to the president of the Max Planck Society, Testbiotech is now arguing that the publicly funded German research institution should take a leading role in protecting the interests of civil society, and initiate changes to the patent of its own accord.