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CRISPR patents: where do the ethical boundaries lie?

Hearing at the European Patent Office

25 November 2021 / The opposition division at the European Patent Office (EPO) will be considering fundamental ethical questions from 29 November until 1 December. The reason: an opposition filed by Testbiotech against a patent on CRISPR/Cas gene scissors (EP 3401400), in which the Nobel Prize laureates Jennifer Doudna and Emanuelle Charpentier are involved. Testbiotech is of the opinion that the patent does not exclude human germline interventions or the commercial usage of human embryos as required by law.

‘Progress’ going in the wrong direction: diseased New GE pufferfish

Fish with a genetic disorder approved for consumption in Japan

23 November 2021 / ‘Progress’ is going in the wrong direction in Japan: diseased CRISPR/Cas gene edited pufferfish could soon be marketed as food. The gene editing tool was used to knock out the function of genes controlling the appetite of the fish. Consequently, the fish suffer from a metabolic disorder. Their feed uptake is increased and they gain more weight compared to the natural species.

Genetically engineered bacteria put food safety at risk

GE microbes often remain undetected

18 November 2021 / Genetically engineered (GE) bacteria are used, amongst other things, in the production of enzymes and vitamins. As an unintended consequence, genetically engineered bacteria have repeatedly found their way into the production processes of food and feed. EU member states have discovered more than a dozen such cases in last years, concerning more than 20 countries. The GE bacteria carry genes conferring antibiotic resistance which may be transferred to gut bacteria. More detailed examinations have found substantial risks to food safety.

Court proceedings against EU-approvals for genetically engineered plants

Testbiotech taking legal action against the EU Commission

5 November 2021 / Testbiotech wants two recent EU approvals for genetically engineered (GE) maize and soybeans to be examined by the General Court of the European Union. The cases against the EU Commission were filed in September 2021 and both cases have now been accepted by the court (T-605/21 and T-606/21). In their analysis, Testbiotech, found that the risks associated with the GE plants produced by Bayer had not undergone detailed assessment as foreseen in EU regulation.

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