Outgoing EU Commission approves controversial applications for import before handing over
1 August 2019 / The EU Commission has given market approval to seven new genetically engineered (GE) plants. These include approvals for the import of GE maize, cotton and soybeans that are herbicide-resistant and produce insecticidal toxins. In March 2019, Testbiotech, together with around 40 organisations, called on the EU Commission to halt the approval processes because health risks from consuming products derived from the plants were not sufficiently assessed.
In February 2019, the first paper on using CRISPR technology to produce pesticide-resistant honeybees was published in South Korea. Ostensibly, this is intended to ‘protect’ the bees from insecticides. This is further not just a one-off case: more and more stakeholders are interested in promoting genetically engineered organisms to ‘protect’ endangered species. Ultimately, it means that wild populations might be replaced by genetically ‘optimised’ organisms.
Reply from the Commission to the letter sent by civil society organisations ignores concerns about the safety of genetically engineered plants
28 June 2019 / The EU Commission has replied to a joint letter sent by more than 40 organisations from science, environmental protection, lobby control, food production and agriculture. The organisations were warning about the outgoing EU Commission might approve around a dozen genetically engineered plants on the basis of scientifically unacceptable risk assessment. However, the reply received from the cabinet of Commissioner Andriukaitis simply states that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has sole responsibility for risk assessment. This claim is simply incorrect.
Introduction of genome editing accelerates process of market concentration in breeding
24 June 2019 / The argument that new methods of genetic engineering are cheaper than previous techniques and could therefore be used by smaller companies, is often put forward in the debate on genome editing being introduced into breeding. However, what the proponents of this argument fail to mention is that the processes for using tools, such as CRISPR/Cas9 and plants and animals derived thereof, can all be patented.