At present, biotech lobbyists are very active in the EU - and if they achieve their aims these could severely impact the environment and consumers. The lobbyists are attempting to persuade politicians and law-makers that the new methods of genetic engineering, based on methods such as the CRISPR/Cas technique, should be exempted from EU GMO regulation. They claim that changes introduced by techniques known as genome editing are not distinguishable from those brought about by conventional breeding. This is not true. Nevertheless, it is something that is repeated over and over again.
New publication reveals close and ongoing collaboration between experts of EFSA and the biotech industry
24 April 2018 / A new publication discusses the risks of the uncontrolled spread of transgenes from genetically engineered maize grown in Spain. The paper is the result of close and ongoing collaboration between experts of EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the biotech industry: The main author, Yann Devos works for EFSA; one of the co-authors, Alan Raybould, works for Syngenta, which wants to sell its genetically engineered seeds for cultivation in Spain. Other EFSA experts were also involved in preparing the paper, including Elisabeth Waigmann, head of the GMO department at EFSA.
But the debate continues on how to assess health risks associated with GMOs
17 April 2018 / An EU-funded research project known as G-TwYST conducted a two-year feeding trial with rats using genetically engineered maize resistant to glyphosate (NK603). According to the results which are not yet finally published, the diet fed to the rats did not trigger any clear signs of health effects. The study followed internationally agreed standards. However, it is not fully comparable with a previous rat feeding study using the same maize line: the G-TwYST study used a different rat strain and was designed differently to the original study.
Research from China has revealed a new dimension in environmental risk posed by genetically engineered plants: additionally inserted genes can enhance the potential for uncontrolled spread into the environment. There is now evidence to show that this is the case for glyphosate resistant plants. Where there is gene flow from the plants into the natural populations, the offspring will have increased fitness and can spread their transgenic DNA more effectively than assumed.