Munich, 8. January 2011. About 5000 people have already signed the petition “Call to protect the environment from synthetic organisms”. The Testbiotech initiative began in June 2010 and is supported by eight other institutions. It is calling for strict legal regulations to protect the environment from synthetic organisms, for permanent control of laboratories and a moratorium on public funding for synthetic biology. It is probably the first time that signatures on this issue have been collected nationally and internationally. Synthetic biology is a newly developed technology enabling the creation of new artificial organisms. Possible applications go far beyond current genetic engineering procedures.
EFSA' s final version of Guidance on environmental risk assessment (ERA) is inadequate to assess the risks of genetically engineered plants. It is based upon comparative assessment – a concept that is far too narrow and biased. It does not define any cut off criteria even for plants that are persistent and might become invasive. It is not sufficiently clear on the risk assessment of stacked events and does not integrate all relevant levels of the food web. For example, wildlife vertebrates are completely omitted.
Munich/ Washington D.C. 16 December 2010. The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues today released its recommendations on the oversight of synthetic biology, provoking strong criticism from 58 organizations in 22 countries for its failure to respond to key environmental and public health risks.
A report presented today by Testbiotech in a media conference in Munich, reveals severe conflicts of interest at the European Food Safety Authority EFSA. The chair of EFSA´s expert GMO Panel responsible for risk the assessment of genetically engineered plants, has been working for years with a so-called Task Force group at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). A member of staff from Monsanto heads the Task Force, and all its members are from biotech corporations.