Recent research by Swiss scientists has shown some alarming effects in genetically engineered wheat. The wheat grew normally and had better resistance to a certain fungal disease in the greenhouse, but the metabolism of the plants went out of control after being exposed to environmental conditions. The plants were severely affected by the extremely toxic fungal disease (ergot disease) and yield was lowered by up to 50 percent. Testbiotech is calling for genetically engineered plants to undergo comprehensive 'stress tests' before they are released into the environment.
The expert-group Testbiotech calls for much stricter standards in the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. A report prepared by Testbiotech on behalf of the Greens in the European Parliament is being presented in Strasbourg today. The report analyses the draft guidelines for the environmental risk assessment of genetically engineered plants that have been drawn up by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and are currently under discussion.
Testbiotech has issued warnings on the risks posed by synthetic biology to the environment and has launched an international appeal demanding strict legal regulations. The awareness of technical developments which allow the creation of artificial life forms have led to this call for higher standards to protect human health and the environment. The release of synthetic organisms into the environment must be prevented, and companies dealing in this kind of technology must be subjected to permanent and effective monitoring.