Patent application covers genetically engineered bacteria and bees
9 July 2020 / US researchers have filed an application for a patent covering genetically engineered bacteria, including the bees that have the microbes in their gut. According to the patent application, the bacteria can produce molecules which interfere with gene regulation across species boundaries. That way the honey bees are ‘indirectly’ genetically engineered. These molecules are, for example, intended to target bee behaviour and thus enhance pollination effectiveness.
The European Patent Office (EPO) has for ethical reasons now declared two patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees to be no longer valid. All claims on genetically engineered animals have to be removed from the patents concerned. The Technical Board of Appeal at the EPO decided in favour of oppositions and appeals filed by a broad coalition of animal welfare and environmental organisations. European patent law prohibits patents on the genetic engineering of animals if it is likely to cause animal suffering.
Potential applications encompass humans, animals, plants and many ecosystems
4 June 2020 / The number of projects aiming to genetically engineer microorganisms has increased strongly in recent years. More effective techniques of analysis and re-synthesis of gene sequences can now be used as starting point for seeking new markets for ‘SynBio’ organisms. Projects include microorganisms which, for example, colonise the gut of humans or bees, live on the surface or inside plants or are abundant in soils.
Transgenic plants are not being tested according to current EU regulations
29 May 2020 / In December 2019, the EU Commission decided to renew two market approvals for genetically engineered (GE) soybeans produced by Bayer. The soybeans (MON89788 and A2704-12) are resistant to applications of the herbicides glyphosate resp. glufosinate. The soybeans were first allowed for EU import more than ten years ago. Testbiotech has asked the Commission to withdraw the decision extending market approval. The reason: the risks associated with the GE soybeans were not assessed in accordance with current EU standards.