Risks associated with the genetically engineered soybean Intacta should undergo more detailed assessment

Scientific publication casts doubt on the arguments of the EU Court of Justice

15 January 2017 / A new scientific publication authored by Testbiotech experts shows that health risks associated with Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybean “Intacta” were not sufficiently assessed. The soybeans produce an insecticide and are resistant to glyphosate and are allowed to imported for use in food and feed in the EU. Health risks arising from interactions between the residues left over from the glyphosate formulations and the insecticide were not investigated despite data showing that toxicity can be thus enhanced. Further, there are indications that these soybeans pose risks to the immune system.

The scientific publication is based on a Testbiotech analysis previously used in a legal case brought against the EU authorisation for Intacta. In mid-December 2016, the EU Court of Justice ruled against Testbiotech. Even though the court ruling actually strengthened the legal position of non-governmental organisations, the main Testbiotech objective i.e. to subject the soybeans to more detailed risk assessment, was rejected.

The new publication shows that the court decision undoubtedly suffers from factual errors. For example, the judges rejected data by arguing that these would not allow conclusions on the impact to human health. One instance of this are the experiments on Daphnia, which is generally regarded as an important model organism. According to the court ruling, these data are not relevant since Daphnia “is an organism to which the modified soybean will have negligible exposure”. But from a scientific point of view, the data from Daphnia are relevant because they show more targeted investigations are needed, especially as crucial data regarding risks for human health are mostly missing.

Currently, Testbiotech has not yet decided whether to appeal the court decision. In its ruling, the court took a very procedural and formalistic approach, possibly making it difficult to introduce scientific arguments at a higher instance.

“EU regulations request much higher standards for the protection of human health and the environment than is currently the case in practice. In this particular instance, the EU Commission, EFSA and Monsanto joined forces to prevent any improvements,” says Christoph Then for Testbiotech. “Nevertheless, we will continue to push for the interests of the public to succeed against the alliance of industry, authorities and politics.”

Christoph Then, Tel + 49 (0) 151 54638040, info@testbioetch.org

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