Testbiotech demands substantial improvements
19 June 2017 / Next Wednesday, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will make a decision on its new guidance for securing its independence. Testbiotech is demanding substantial improvements: EFSA should prioritise more independence specifically in regard to curbing the influence of the agrifood industries. In this respect, the EFSA position should be to give preference to the interests of the general public and, more particularly, the protection of health and the environment.
EU Commission apparently never seriously considered prohibiting the herbicide
24 May 2017 / The EU Commission has announced that it is planning to extend authorisation for glyphosate for a further ten years. The decision is based on the latest evaluation published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in March 2017, declaring glyphosate to be safe. However, it appears that banning the herbicide was never seriously considered. In fact, the EU Commission approved 14 new import authorisations for genetically engineered plants resistant to herbicides even while official discussions on the evaluation of glyphosate were still in progress.
The patent that paved the way for patents on mammals
19 May 2017 / In May 1992, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted the first patent on a mammal, the so-called “oncomouse” (EP0169672) patent. The mice were deliberately genetically engineered to be highly susceptible developing cancer within their lifespan. The patent was applied for by Harvard University in cooperation with the US company, DuPont. Many oppositions were filed against the patent. As a consequence, it was narrowed down but not revoked.
Analysis carried out by researchers at the ETH Zürich revealed that teosinte plants found in Spain cannot be grouped with any of the currently recognised teosinte taxa. Instead, these plants seem to be of mixed origin, most likely with teosinte and maize as parental plants. Experimental crosses indicate that there is ongoing hybridisation between teosinte growing in Spain and maize cultivated there.