Pressearchiv

Decision on a legal challenge of three non-governmental organisations against approval of a soybeans from Monsanto (Bayer)

Today, the European Court of Justice published the decision on a legal case filed by Testbiotech together with the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) and the environmental organisation Sambucus (C-82/17 P). The organisations are concerned about the risks connected with genetically engineered soybeans produced by Monsanto (Bayer) and sold under the brand name “Intacta”. According to the decision of the Court, the risks of the genetically engineered soybeans have been investigated sufficiently before they were allowed for import.

GE insects are spreading in Brazil

According to a new scientific publication, genetically engineered mosquitoes produced by Oxitec (Intrexon) have escaped human control after trials in Brazil. They are now spreading in the environment. The yellow fever mosquitos (Aedes aegypti) are genetically engineered to make it impossible for their offspring to survive. After release they were supposed to mate with female mosquitos of the species which are transmitting infectious diseases, such as Dengue fever, to diminish the natural populations.

Gene scissor CRISPR being used to produce pesticide-resistant honey bees

In February 2019, the first paper on using CRISPR technology to produce pesticide-resistant honeybees was published in South Korea. Ostensibly, this is intended to ‘protect’ the bees from insecticides. This is further not just a one-off case: more and more stakeholders are interested in promoting genetically engineered organisms to ‘protect’ endangered species. Ultimately, it means that wild populations might be replaced by genetically ‘optimised’ organisms.

Outgoing EU Commission might approve several controversial applications before handing over

More than 40 organisations from science, environmental protection, lobby control, food production and agriculture have today published a joint letter. They warn that the outgoing EU Commission might approve around a dozen genetically engineered plants on the basis of scientifically unacceptable risk assessment before handing over.

Testbiotech publishes new report

According to research carried out by Testbiotech, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already given non-regulated status to more than 20 plants genetically engineered with so-called genome editing techniques. None of the applications registered at USDA were referred for further more detailed assessment. The Testbiotech report published today shows that there are however significant differences in methods of production, traits and risks of the non-regulated plants in comparison to those derived from conventional breeding.

Corteva maize is resistant to four herbicides and produces several insecticides – combinatorial effects not tested

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has signalled that it is in favour of approving further controversial genetically engineered maize variants produced by Corteva (DowDupont). The recent EFSA opinions published in January 2019, deal with two approval applications for maize developed through cross-breeding to combine several genetically engineered traits. The plants are resistant to up to four groups of herbicides (glyphosate, glufosinate, 2,4-D and AOPP) and produce up to six insecticides.

Resolutions concern plants from Bayer and Syngenta intended for food and feed

Yesterday the EU Parliament adopted with a large majority several resolutions against approvals for genetically engineered maize, oilseed rape and cotton. The resolutions were tabled by a cross party group of MEPS, initiated by the Green group. The resolutions call for higher standards in risk assessment and the strengthening of democratic decision making. The plants produced by Bayer and Syngenta are resistant to herbicides and produce insecticidal toxins, with some of them producing these in combination.

Risks to the immune system and combinatorial effects untested

Just before Christmas, the EU Commission approved the import of a Bayer / Monsanto maize that produces six insecticidal Bt toxins. The decision was taken despite recent scientific findings indicating substantial risks to the immune system from Bt toxins. Furthermore, there may be risks to health from residues left from spraying the maize with large amounts of the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate that the plants are resistant to. Combinatorial effects of the toxins together with the residues from spraying with herbicides remain untested.

Mexican scientists disagree with EFSA

At the request of the EU Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has assessed some new research published by Mexican scientists. This new research concludes that a Bt toxin (Cry1Ac) which is also produced in several genetically engineered plants authorised for import into the EU can cause allergies. However, the EFSA has come to the conclusion that the study does not provide any new information and suffers from methodological flaws. Testbiotech in turn asked the Mexican scientists for their comments.

EU Commission needed four years to take action

Currently, the EU is facing the biggest case of uncontrolled spread of non-approved genetically engineered organisms in its history: viable bacteria with a four-fold resistance to antibiotics, of which three are due to genetic engineering, have been found in animal feed products. The resistance is to antibiotics that are therapeutically important. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the animal feed products pose a risk for “consumers, users and the environment”.

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) does not have guidance for risk assessment of transgenic crops with altered nutritional composition

The office of the European Ombudsman has confirmed it will investigate a complaint by GeneWatch UK, supported by TestBiotech, regarding the authorisation for import of three transgenic crops with altered oil content for use as food and feed.

Genetically engineered maize is super-resistant to herbicides and produces six insecticidal toxins

EU Member States will today vote on whether a new genetically engineered (GE) maize that is super-resistant to the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate and produces six insecticides can be imported. The maize is produced by crossing five different GE plants. Bayer wants approval for import and usage in food and feed. The health impacts resulting from the specific combination of potential toxic substances were not investigated.

New Testbiotech video

Testbiotech has made a new video showing how 'gene drive' works. This new technology is capable of genetically engineering whole natural populations. It involves manipulating the genome of an organism in such a way that it becomes self-replicating in every generation thereafter. This enables the altered gene to spread rapidly throughout natural populations and either replace or eradicate them. The nuclease CRISPR-Cas has a decisive role in this context.

No more co-authorship of EFSA members of staff with the biotech industry

In response to a letter from Testbiotech, the Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Bernhard Url, announced to “ensure that in the future EFSA staff members will no longer co-author scientific publications with industry affiliated scientists”. Testbiotech recently complained about a publication on the risks of cultivating genetically engineered maize in Spain. The main author, Yann Devos works for EFSA; one of the co-authors, Alan Raybould, works for Syngenta, a company that wants to sell its genetically engineered maize seeds.

DowDuPont and 'Baysanto' have taken the lead in new methods of genetic engineering

DowDuPont is ahead having filed around 50 international patent applications (at the WIPO in Geneva) for genome editing and plants, followed by 'Baysanto' with around 30 applications. The US company Cellectis (and its subsidiary Calyxt), in cooperation with Bayer, is registered as having filed more than 20 applications. Further applicants are Syngenta and BASF. So far, very few patents have been filed by traditional breeding companies. These are results of recent patent research evaluated by Testbiotech.

Untruthful assertions about new methods of genetic engineering

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.

Glyphosate resistant plants show a surprisingly high potential for uncontrolled environmental spread

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.

Legal revision of risks of genetically engineered soybeans is admissible in court

The General Court of the European Union today confirmed the right of civil society organisations to submit legal cases concerning the health risks of genetically engineered plants. The case was prompted by market authorisation being issued for the import of genetically engineered soybeans produced by US companies Monsanto and DuPont/ Pioneer which, according to analysis undertaken by Testbiotech and other experts, have not been adequately investigated for health risks.

No clear distinction between breeding and genetic engineering

On 18 January, the Attorney General of the EU Court of Justice (EuCJ) published his position on whether or not so-called genome editing must be regulated under current EU GMO legislation. On behalf of Testbiotech, the well-known EU legal expert Professor Ludwig Kraemer has now analysed the position of the Attorney General (C-528/16). Professor Kraemer worked as an official for the EU Commission (DG Environment) until 2004 and was involved in drawing up the current EU GMO regulations.

A gift made to Bayer and Dow without anyone knowing

The EU Commission has granted six further authorisations for genetically engineered plants, including some controversial genetically engineered soybeans with triple herbicide resistance. The decision to grant authorisation was made on the quiet by the EU Commission during the Christmas holiday period. Testbiotech has proven that the real risks from consumption of these soybeans were not investigated. But the EU Commission failed to respond to any of these scientific arguments.

EFSA provides data but only after a substantial delay

According to a Testbiotech analysis, there are clear indications that the companies Dow and Bayer manipulated the data for risk assessment of their genetically engineered soybeans. The claim is based on analysis of the data presented by the companies for risk assessment in the EU. Analysis showed that Dow used a special sample of the genetically engineered soybeans in their feeding studies with rats, which was sprayed with much lower amount of herbicides than usual.

Testbiotech is concerned about risk assessment being ‘doctored’

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is withholding access to data from feeding trials with genetically engineered soybeans. Testbiotech is concerned that the real health risks from consumption of these soybeans are being concealed. The plants produced by Bayer and Dow AgroSciences each have resistance to three different herbicides, including glyphosate. In analysing documents, Testbiotech became aware of inconsistencies in regard to the feeding trials performed by the US company Dow and, therefore, requested access to the relevant data several weeks ago.

Documents show how an international UN conference is being targeted

As documents published today show, an international campaign is underway behind the scenes to pave the way for the release of genetically engineered insects and mammals, carrying a so-called gene drive. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is particularly active in this regard. The foundation has, amongst other things, hired a specialised consulting agency (Emerging Ag) specifically to influence public opinion and future regulatory systems.

Safety loopholes in the approval process and imports

After the vote on glyphosate was postponed once again, Testbiotech is demanding that all approvals for genetically engineered soybeans sprayed with glyphosate are stopped. The reason: The residues in the soybean harvest are from herbicide mixtures that are even more toxic than glyphosate alone, and none of these have ever been properly investigated.

But great apes are no longer covered

Today, the Testbiotech opposition against the Max Planck Society patent EP2328918 was rejected in most parts by the European Patent Office (EPO). The patent claims genetically engineered laboratory animals and even apes as “inventions”. They are genetically engineered to have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The claims on laboratory animals and their uses have only been marginally limited. The most significant change is a restriction of the claims: chimpanzees have been removed from the patent. But the patent still covers monkeys, such as baboons as well as rats and mice.

Opposition division of the European Patent Office to make a decision on ethics

Tomorrow on the 27 September, the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich will hold a public hearing on an opposition filed by Testbiotech against the Max Planck Society patent EP2328918. This patent claims genetically engineered animals as “inventions”, including non-human primates such as baboons. The animals are meant to be genetically engineered to show symptoms of the Parkinson’s disease.

Testbiotech warns about uncontrolled introduction of gene-edited organisms

Testbiotech is today publishing a new report on the risks of new methods of genetic engineering (gene editing), which make use of tools such as the DNA scissor CRISPR-Cas. Testbiotech reports that the risks are far from being sufficiently recognised and understood. However, many stakeholders are presenting the technology as being so safe that relevant organisms can be released and marketed without needing to undergo risk assessment or comply with labelling requirements. Testbiotech strongly warns about the uncontrolled introduction of gene-edited organisms.

Plants with triple herbicide resistance could soon be authorised for the first time

Testbiotech has examined documents from applications submitted by Bayer and Dow AgroSciences for the approval of genetically engineered soybeans and found that important areas of risk assessment were not taken into account. In its field trials, Bayer only used about one kilo of glyphosate per hectare. In everyday agricultural practice, up to four or even eight kilograms per hectare are recommended. Moreover, plants produced by Dow AgroSciences were made resistant to more groups of herbicide substances than mentioned in the EFSA risk assessment.

Confidential emails reveal how Monsanto secretly influences European scientists

A number of emails published by US consumer attorneys show how Monsanto is secretly influencing European scientists behind the scenes in order to have their herbicide glyphosate declared as being non-carcinogenic. It seems that payments by Monsanto can be traced to a leading expert at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): It is likely that Jose Tarazona, head of the Pesticide Unit at EFSA, was funded by Monsanto for his participation at a conference in the US in 2017. According to available information, it can be assumed that the funding was channelled via a British toxicologist.

Plants are resistant to a cocktail of herbicides known to be harmful to human health

The German government recently abstained in a vote on allowing EU imports of genetically engineered plants; and thereby effectively smoothed the way for the business interests of Bayer and Dow AgroSciences. These companies want the EU to approve two new genetically engineered soybeans for import and usage in food and feed. Both these new soybean plants have been engineered to be resistant to three herbicides known to leave residues in the harvest. According to the data available, consumption of the soybeans is likely to pose health risks.

Split vote: Majority of 15 countries to 12 countries against authorisation for import

In the vote on import approval for a new variety of genetically engineered soybeans in Brussels on 12 July, Germany was the only country which abstained. According to well informed experts, 15 countries – such as France, Italy, Poland and Austria – voted against the authorisation, 12 countries – such as UK and Spain – were in favour. Just a day before the vote, the Committee on the Environment of the EU Parliament demanded that the import and use of these soybeans in food and feed was rejected. Despite all concerns, the EU Commission is expected to approve the authorisation.

Committee on the Environment demands further investigation into the effects of herbicide applications

Tomorrow, EU Member States will vote in Brussels on import approval for a new variety of genetically engineered soybeans. Today, just before the vote, the Committee on the environment of the EU Parliament demanded that the import and use of these soybeans in food and feed was rejected. They maintain that residues left after spraying with specific herbicides to which the plants were resistant needed further and more detailed investigation before approval was given. The soybeans (DAS-68416-4) developed by the US company Dow can be sprayed with a combination of 2,4-D and glufosinate.

Plants are resistant to a cocktail of herbicides known to be hazardous to human health

Important votes are scheduled to be taken mid-July in Brussels on EU imports of new genetically engineered soybeans. The soybean plants produced by Bayer and Dow AgroSciences are engineered to be resistant to the application of several herbicides. Consequently, the soybean harvest will be burdened with the respective residues. Nonetheless, the European Food Safety Authority EFSA has only partially assessed the residues of the herbicides and did not take combinatorial effects into account. According to the data available, consumption of the soybeans are likely to pose health risks.

Risk of gene flow from transgenic maize needs urgent investigation

Analysis carried out by researchers at the ETH Zürich revealed that teosinte plants found in Spain cannot be grouped with any of the currently recognised teosinte taxa. Instead, these plants seem to be of mixed origin, most likely with teosinte and maize as parental plants. Experimental crosses indicate that there is ongoing hybridisation between teosinte growing in Spain and maize cultivated there.

Health risks from residues with spraying with herbicides were not assessed

Testbiotech has filed a case at the General Court of the EU against authorisation for the import of genetically soybeans produced by Bayer and Monsanto. The soybeans sold under brand names, such as 'Balance GT' or 'Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans', can be sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate in combination with other herbicides e.g. isoxaflutole and dicamba. The combination of these herbicides and their residues from spraying were not assessed in respect to health risks. At least one of the herbicides, isoxaflutole, is classified as a suspected human carcinogen.

Testbiotech critical of the newly drafted policy on the independence of the European Food Safety Authority

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a new draft policy on its independence and scientific decision-making, and is inviting comments from the public. Testbiotech is demanding the newly drafted policy is substantially improved. According to Testbiotech, EFSA should give priority to gaining more independence specifically in regard to the influence from agrifood industries. This is not the case with the current draft.

Risk of uncontrolled release of genetically engineered flies

Testbiotech, the Gene-ethical Network and and a German small farmers’ organisation (Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft, AbL) have sent a joint letter to the German state government of Lower Saxony, calling for clarification and information on research into genetically engineered insects. The letter was sent after an interview with a biologist at the University of Göttingen was published in a German scientific journal.

Appellants seek clarity on fundamental legal questions regarding the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants

Testbiotech, the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) and the environmental organisation Sambucus have together filed an appeal (C-82/17 P) at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the decision of the General Court of the EU from December 2016 (T-177/13). The appellants are contesting the ruling of the court, which approved the decision of the EU Commission to allow the import of the soybean. They are seeking clarity on fundamental legal questions concerning EU authorisation of genetically engineered plants.

CETA - putting transparency and consumer choice at risk

Research conducted by Testbiotech has shown that cows and their offspring stemming from cloned bulls are registered in a professional breeders database in the UK. It is likely that a considerable number of animals stemming from clones have already entered the EU. At present, the EU has no labelling or registration requirements for these kinds of imports, which makes it almost impossible to identify breeding material stemming from cloned bulls. The research was commissioned by the Greens/EFA Group in the EU Parliament.

New Testbiotech project expands the debate to the future of genetically engineered organisms

Testbiotech has started a brand new project under the heading “Set limits to biotech!”. We will be providing answers to a whole range of questions about biotech, using illustrations and citing examples. The project will, in addition, provide critical analysis and present a set of political demands. Besides including information on the kind of genetically engineered organisms that are likely to be developed in the near future, we will be showing what we need to do to protect our health and the environment.

Crucial questions in risk assessment remain unresolved

Today, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled on legal action brought against the import of genetically engineered Monsanto Intacta soybeans (T-177/13). According to the ruling, these genetically engineered soybeans were risk assessed in accordance with EU regulations. The ruling means that the court has given a stamp of approval to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) risk assessment and EU Commission decision-making.

Companies have failed to file fully completed applications

According to a recent legal dossier, the pending applications for the cultivation of genetically engineered maize in the EU suffer from crucial deficiencies. In consequence, the pending applications must be rejected and the existing authorisation for cultivation of maize MON810 withdrawn. The applications were filed by Monsanto, Pioneer/DuPont and Syngenta. They have wholly ignored recent developments and failed to properly address the risk of the transgenes spreading to other plant species.

Testbiotech demands political initiatives to stop this growing trend in animal suffering

In Germany, the number of genetically engineered animals being used in experiments exceeded one million per year for the first time. The official statistics published for 2015 list more than 1.1 million genetically engineered animals, most of these are rats and mice. This is an increase of more than 10 percent compared to the figures in 2014 (984.886 genetically engineered animals).

It exposes an alarming trend: From 2004 to 2013, the number of genetically engineered animals used in experiments tripled from 317.777 to 947.019.

Companies disregarding EU regulation

The EU Commission wants to allow the cultivation of genetically engineered maize before the growing season 2017 starts. Three variants of transgenic maize producing insecticidal toxins, registered as MON810, Maize 1507 and Bt 11, are being considered. Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer and Syngenta are pushing for the market introduction of the seeds. EU Member States are expected to vote on this issue on 9 December.

The project focus: Risks of genetically engineered plants

A new project dealing with the risks of genetically engineered plants was set up this week during a workshop in Zürich, Switzerland. The project is independent of the interests of the biotech industry. The experts from the public sector and civil society agree that current regulatory practise as applied in risk assessment of genetically engineered plants in Europe is not sufficient to safeguard the protection of health and the environment.

EFSA publishes hastily drawn up opinion to downplay the risks

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is backing Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta plans to extend the cultivation of genetically engineered maize in the EU. So far, only one transgenic maize is allowed for cultivation in the EU. The companies are waiting for a decision that would allow them to sell seeds for three variants of genetically engineered maize in 2017. These maize plants all produce insecticides, and two of them are resistant to herbicides. New environmental risks are emerging with the cultivation of the transgenic plants, in particular from teosinte.

European Food Safety Authority and EU Commission suspected of abusing their power to bolster their position at the EU Court of Justice

Testbiotech has raised serious allegations against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), asserting that it is deeply entangled in conflicts of interest in its assessment of recent scientific findings. In July 2016, upon request of the EU Commission, EFSA claimed that a new scientific paper published by Norwegian scientists on the risks of genetically modified (GM) plants could not be used as a basis for drawing final conclusions, and would therefore not be relevant for risk assessment.

Decision of the EU Commission breaches regulation on GMOs and pesticides

Testbiotech has requested that the EU Commission review its decision on the authorisation for import of genetically soybeans produced by Bayer and Monsanto. The soybeans can be sprayed with the herbicide glyphosate in combination with other herbicides, isoxaflutole and dicamba. At the end of July, the EU Commission gave the go ahead for the soybeans to be used in food and feed despite continuing concerns about health risks. Analysis carried out by Testbiotech shows that the decision made by the EU Commission breaches GMO and pesticide regulations.

Trees created with new methods of genetic engineering to be released for the first time in Sweden

In China, the US and Sweden, new methods of genetic engineering such as CRISPR are being used on forest trees. The first field trials are planned to take place in Sweden with genetically engineered poplars that show a range of genetic changes in their genome that affect flowering, growth, production of branches, leafs and roots. The goal of this type of engineering is to drastically change the phenotype and characteristics of the trees, without any specific purpose being provided.

Complaint about the way the EU Commission handles risk research projects

The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has made a decision on a complaint filed by Testbiotech. The complaint was directed at the EU Commission and its management of conflicts of interest in publicly funded risk research projects. The EU Ombudsman decided that there was no clear evidence for maladministration at the EU Commission.

Health risks of residues from spraying with herbicides not assessed

According to news agencies, the EU Commissionhas allowed the import of genetically engineered soybeans produced by Bayer and Monsanto. The imported soybeans can be used in food and feed despite unresolved concerns about health risks. These crops can be sprayed with a combination of glyphosate and other herbicides such as dicamba or isoxaflutole. Market authorisation has been issued after massive pressure from industry, which already sold its patented seeds in the US for cultivation and now wants to import the harvest to the EU within the next months.

  • The teosinte, which appeared in Spain in 2009, is a new alien species and a wild relative of maize. The European Commission is well aware of its presence in Spain.

  • The appearance of teosinte is having serious consequences for agriculture. The situation could worsen if it crosses with genetically modified maize.

New Testbiotech report published

At present, there is a controversy in the EU as to whether feeding trials with genetically engineered plants have to be conducted before the plants are granted market authorisation. Both the biotech industry and EFSA experts are pushing for these feeding trials not to be mandatory. They are demanding the withdrawal of a regulation requesting 90-day feeding trials that was only very recently introduced by the EU Commission.

“EFSA is unaware of the facts, or seemingly trying to mislead public perception”

In an open letter to the EFSA Management Board, Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK are urging them to take measures to safeguard the independence of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and restore its credibility. The reasons for this are recent cases of conflicts of interest:

The European Patent Office and companies are turning animal experiments into an unethical business

The next round in the legal battle against patents held by a US company on genetically engineered chimpanzees has now started. After the European Patent Office (EPO) rejected joint oppositions against patents EP1572862 and EP1456346, the opponents are appealing the decision. Intrexon has claimed genetically engineered mice, rats, rabbits, cats, dogs, cattle, pigs, horses, sheep and even chimpanzees as its invention. The animals are supposedly manipulated with some kind of 'gene switch' that targets gene activity in the mammals.

Testbiotech requests that experts with strong affiliations to industry are removed from the FAO/WHO panel

In a letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Testbiotech has requested that experts with strong affiliations to industry are removed from the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). Furthermore, the standards for avoiding conflict of interests within this body need to be raised substantially. The letter was written and sent in response to a recent assessment of the herbicide glyphosate carried out by the JMPR. The JMPR, which is jointly organised by WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), came to the conclusion that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer.

Soybean Intacta developed by US company Monsanto contains residues from glyphosate and produces an insecticide

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has scheduled a hearing for the 12 May on legal action brought against the import of the genetically engineered Monsanto soybeans (T-77/13). MON87701 x MON89788 soybeans were authorised in the EU for use in food and feed. They are grown predominantly in Brazil and sold under the brand name Intacta. These plants have a unique combination of two genetically engineered traits: They express a so-called insecticidal Bt toxin and are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known under trade names such as Roundup.

Testbiotech: The publicly funded research institution should take on a role model function

Testbiotech has filed an opposition against Patent EP2328918 issued to the Max Planck Society, based in Munich. This patent claims genetically engineered animals, even including primates as “inventions”. Testbiotech believes the patent constitutes an unacceptable violation of ethical boundaries. In a letter to the president of the Max Planck Society, Testbiotech is now arguing that the publicly funded German research institution should take a leading role in protecting the interests of civil society, and initiate changes to the patent of its own accord.

EFSA and Monsanto are ignoring risks for farmers and the environment

In an open letter to the EU Commission, several Spanish, British and German organisations are urging that effective measures be taken to prevent genetically engineered maize from spreading into the environment. As evidenced by the organisations, the ancestor of cultivated maize, teosinte, is widely invading agricultural landscapes in several regions of Spain where, in some cases, the genetically engineered maize MON810 is also cultivated which is producing an insecticidal protein.

Concerns about health risks due to residues from spraying glyphosate in combination with other herbicides

In a recent letter to Testbiotech, EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis made it clear that the Commission finally wants to allow the import of genetically engineered soybeans produced by Bayer and Monsanto, despite concerns about health risks. These soybeans can be sprayed with a combination of glyphosate and other herbicides such as dicamba or isoxaflutole. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA just recently stated that the health risks of these residues cannot be sufficiently assessed and safety levels cannot be defined since the relevant data are missing.

Controversy about the health risks of genetically engineered soybeans

The EU Commission wants to prevent Testbiotech from initiating a legal revision of a decision to allow the import of genetically engineered soybeans. This move by the Commission is in contradiction to previous decisions and Testbiotech has now initiated a precedent case at the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to gain access to justice (T-33/16).

“Revolving doors with industry are fast becoming EFSA´s main entrance”

In a letter to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Testbiotech is urging its executive Director Bernhard Url, to take measures to safeguard EFSA's independence and restore its credibility. The letter was prompted by the fact that in January Barbara Gallani was appointed EFSA communications director. Ms Gallani is currently serving as chief scientist at the UK food industry lobby group, the Food and Drink Federation and will take up her position at EFSA without any cooling-off period. Risk communication is one of the most important tasks undertaken by EFSA.

Soaring number of patent applications including those on farm animals

Testbiotech has published a report which for the first time gives an overview of patents filed by large corporations for the use of gene-editing and synthetic gene technology in food plants. According to the research presented in the report, DuPont and Dow Agrosciences are the corporates that have filed the highest number of patent applications for plants derived from the new methods. They are closely followed by German company, Bayer. In addition, there is an increasing number of patents being filed for the use of these methods in farm animals.

Potential for genetically engineered maize to crossbreed with its wild ancestor teosinte

Today thirteen civil society organisations active in agriculture and environmental issues have officially alerted the European Commission that the wild ancestor of cultivated maize, teosinte, has appeared in Spain and is spreading widely in maize growing areas as an invasive species. Teosinte and maize have the potential to interbreed and form hybrids. This applies equally to genetically engineered maize MON810, produced by Monsanto and grown on more than 100,000 hectares in Spain.

Mix of residues from combined spraying of herbicides raise health concerns

In a letter to Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK, the responsible EU Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis admits that “it is true that the legislation requires cumulative and synergistic effects of pesticide residues to be considered”. At the same time, he also states that methods to assess these health effects are not yet available. The letter from the Commission was written in response to a call by the two organisations to stop market authorisation of herbicide resistant genetically engineered soybeans.

New toxicology dossier assesses health risks of glyphosate sprayed in combination with other herbicides

A toxicology dossier published today assessing herbicides sprayed onto genetically engineered soybeans has revealed some alarming results. Residues originating from a combination of glyphosate with dicamba or isoxaflutole show a higher risk of serious detrimental health effects such as genotoxicity, liver toxicity and tumours than each of the single substances. Combinations of these herbicides are regularly applied to new genetically engineered soybean varieties produced by Monsanto and Bayer.

Recent assessment of EFSA supports concerns regarding health risks

On 18 November, the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed has three applications for the import authorisation of genetically engineered soybeans with resistance to glyphosate on its agenda. These soybeans can be used as food and feed across the EU. Two of these plants have been engineered to be resistant to the combined use of other herbicides and glyphosate. Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK are together requesting that these authorisation processes are suspended.

Report shows close networking between experts and industry

The results from the EU research project GRACE are to be presented in Potsdam, Germany on 9 and 10 November. The GRACE team of experts conducted feeding trials with genetically engineered plants on rats and reviewed existing publications on risk research. Testbiotech analysis shows the biotech industry has seriously impacted the results of the research project. As a Testbiotech report published today also shows, the biotech industry has not only systematically influenced the GRACE research project, but four other similar EU research projects.

Decision-making behind closed doors

After conducting confidential talks, the US company, CIBUS, has reached an agreement with the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), that its RTDS oilseed rape will not be subjected to regulation for genetically engineered plants. This can be concluded from exchange of emails made available to the Gen-ethical Network (GeN) in Germany. The email correspondence between the BVL and industry shows that there was an agreement from the very beginning to exclude any public participation.

The soybeans are resistant to several herbicides

The EU Commission has stated that they see no need for detailed risk assessment of genetically engineered soybeans that can contain a mixture of probably carcinogenic residues. Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 have been engineered to be resistant to a combination of the herbicides, glyphosate and dicamba. Residues from spraying with these herbicides are suspected of being carcinogenic.

Testbiotech announces it will appeal the decision

The European Patent Office (EPO) has upheld two patents issued to US company Intrexon. In these patents, EP1572862 and EP1456346, Intrexon claims genetically engineered animals such as mice, rats, rabbits, cats, dogs, bovines, goats, pigs, horses, sheep, monkeys and chimpanzees as inventions. Together with other organisations, Testbiotech filed an opposition against the patents on ethical grounds, arguing that they can provide incentives to carry out animal experiments for commercial reasons. Testbiotech now will file an appeal against the decision.

Legal dossier backs position of civil society organisations

Today a legal dossier on the legal status of new methods for the production of genetically engineering plants is published. The dossier, drawn up by Professor Ludwig Kraemer, is being presented ahead of a decision due to be announced by the EU Commission within the next few weeks. Industry is demanding that new methods of changing genetic conditions in plants and animals should not be regulated in the same way as genetically engineered plants, and should be allowed onto the market without registration, risk assessment or labelling.

New report on recent and emerging cases

Testbiotech will today publish a report providing a global overview of recent cases of uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms able to persist and propagate in the environment. The report will be presented to a working group organised by the Secretary of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) at a meeting taking place in Montreal (Canada) from 21 - 25 September.

… but Monsanto had access

The EU Commission is refusing to let independent experts have access to the report prepared by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) on the risk assessment of glyphosate. In a letter to Testbiotech dated 10 August 2015, the Commission says that the documents made available to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) by the German government “are protected in their entirety” as confidential. The EU Commission can see “no overriding public interest” that would justify access.

International Magazine Nature warns against insects with gene drive

After protests by a broad coalition of NGOs against plans to release genetically engineered olive flies in Spain, the UK company Oxitec now has withdrawn its application. As reported by Spanish media, Oxitec was informed by regional authorities that the experiments will not be allowed. After 2013, this is the second time that the company has failed to get approval for its application in Spain. Once released, the genetically engineered flies might spread throughout the Mediterranean region and all the locations where native populations of olive flies occur.

Trial puts biodiversity and olive production in the Mediterranean region at risk

The UK company Oxitec is planning to release genetically engineered olive flies into the environment in Spain (Catalonia). The insects are genetically manipulated in such a way that female descendants will die as larvae feeding inside the olives, while the next generations of male flies will survive. Oxitec plans to release up to 5000 of these flies per week in Spain, near the town of Tarragona. The field trial expected to last for one year will cover a netted area of 1000m2. However, if the flies escape they can spread without any control.

Call to stop EU authorisation of genetically engineered soybeans containing a mix of chemical residues that might be carcinogenic
Munich, 23 July 2015

Testbiotech is warning that EU market authorisation might be given to a new genetically engineered soybean produced by Monsanto. Soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 was made resistant to two pesticides, glyphosate and dicamba. Spraying soybean crops with these herbicides leaves residues in the plants which might be carcinogenic. Glyphosate was recently classified as “probably carcinogenic” by an international expert group. Dicamba degrades to compounds such as formaldehyde, which has already been classified as carcinogenic for several years.

Claims on genetically engineered chimpanzees withdrawn before the decision

The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked the patent EP1409646 held by Altor BioScience. After the US company withdrew its controversial claims on genetically engineered chimpanzees, the EPO has now also revoked a changed version of the patent claiming genetically engineered rats and mice as inventions. The decision was made on the basis that there were flaws in the technical quality of the patent. The opponents believe this outcome is an important success, but are warning that it does not indicate a general change in the legal practice of the EPO.

Patent holder to withdraw controversial claims

US company Altor BioScience is to withdraw patent claims covering genetically engineered chimpanzees. The announcement has been made prior to a public hearing on oppositions against the patent (Patent EP1409646) on 7 and 8 July at European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. The company still wants to keep its claims covering genetically engineered mice and rats. The opponents consider these claims to be morally unacceptable since such patents can provide incentives to carry out animal experiments for commercial reasons.

Complaints concern herbicide resistant oilseed rape and soybeans with changed oil composition

t. Several organisations filed requests for the EU Commission to review market authorisations for the import of genetically engineered plants for usage in food and feed in the EU issued end of March. The complaints concern a genetically engineered oilseed rape produced by Monsanto made resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (MON88302), as well as three soybeans produced by Monsanto and Pioneer, in which the composition of the oil they contain has been changed (MON87769, MON87705 and DP305423). The complaints were filed according to EU regulation 1367/2006.

Letter from Brussels quashes decision of German authority

A letter sent by the EU Commission in mid-June to the relevant authorities of EU Member States clearly confirms that a decision made by the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) on the release of a genetically engineered oilseed rape produced by the US company Cibus, cannot be implemented. The letter strongly contradicts the decision made by the German authority in February 2015, which would have allowed the release of Cibus oilseed rape without it being subject to regulation required for genetically engineered organisms.

Coffee machines, a plush mouse and Apple gift cards as promotional gifts

Sales promotions for patented and genetically engineered animals are flourishing on the internet. There are promotional discount prices and give-aways. Suppliers promise fast and low-cost delivery of mice and rats manipulated with synthetic DNA. Genetic engineering of the rats and mice can be carried out at any chosen location of the animal’s genome. Prices start from around 15.000 € and the animals, often diseased, can be delivered on demand. All enquires are naturally strictly confidential.

Report on investment links between financial institutions and the pharmaceutical industry

Testbiotech is today publishing a report on companies that apply for patents on animals such as mice, dogs and apes, and on financial institutions that invest in them. These patents turn animals into a product that might be commercialised at maximum profit – just like many other patented products. Out of the ten largest global pharmaceutical corporations, Hoffmann La-Roche (and its subsidiary Genentech), Pfizer and Novartis file the highest number of relevant patent applications. According to database research, they have each applied for around 100 to 400 patents that concern animals and its usages. The companies Altor BioScience, Bionomics and Intrexon have also been included in the report because they even hold patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees.

After opposition, Bionomics wants to amend its patent
Munich, 13 May 2015

Following a legal opposition against their European patent (EP 1364025), which claims genetically engineered chimpanzees as an „invention“, the Australian company Bionomics has decided to relinquish the controversial claims. The patent will therefore no longer cover genetically modified animals. In July 2013, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted Bionomics the patent covering animals such as pigs, sheep, dogs, cats and even chimpanzees. According to the patent, the animals were to be manipulated with human gene sequences associated with carcinogenesis.

Testbiotech warns that the planned free trade agreement TTIP will endanger freedom of choice

Today the German parliament is likely to vote in favour of a permanent prohibition against the cloning of animals for food production. The German government will also be urged to push for EU-wide labelling that extends to the offspring of cloned animals and food products. Testbiotech welcomes this initiative but raises doubts about its ultimate success, since the planned free trade agreement TTIP is likely to diminish any room left for political decision making.

New documents show Monsanto does not comply with EU regulations

As several documents from Monsanto, the EU Commission and European Food Safety Authority EFSA show, cultivation of genetically engineered maize MON810 does not comply with EU regulations. The main problem is the legally required monitoring of potentially adverse environmental effects. There is also new evidence that the environmental risk assessment for MON810 carried out by EFSA was based on flawed assumptions. Maize MON810 is the only genetically engineered crop authorised for cultivation in the EU.

Testbiotech to file a complaint

Never before has the EU Commission authorised so many genetically engineered plants for import on just one day. Last Friday, 19 genetically plants were granted market authorisation, 17 for usage in food and feed, and 2 are for flowers (carnations). 10 of the plants approved for food and feed are new authorisations, the others are re-approvals. The overall number of genetically engineered plants that can be imported into the EU for use in food and feed has now risen to 58. Testbiotech plans to file a complaint to set a precedent case.

Joint appeal against the cultivation of genetically engineered Cibus oilseed rape

Nearly 30 organisations from Germany have published a joint appeal against the cultivation of oilseed rape produced by the US company, Cibus. The appeal is in response to a decision made by the German Minister of Agriculture. He believes that these plants, which have a genome engineered to be resistant to herbicides, do not have to be regulated in the same way as other genetically engineered organisms.

Patent covered usage of human oocyts

Testbiotech has won an opposition against a patent held by Merck Serono at the European Patent Office (EPO). Patent EP 1794287 covered a process for the production and use of human oocytes (egg cells). European patent law excludes patents on the human body at the various stages of its development, including so-called germ cells. Testbiotech filed the opposition in April 2010 and the patent finally was revoked end of March 2015.

Gene expression and content of insecticidal toxins cannot be reliably predicted

Scientists from Switzerland and Norway have now published the results of an investigation into genetically engineered maize MON810, which produces an insecticidal protein, a so-called Bt toxin (Trtikova et al., 2015). In the investigation, two varieties of maize MON810 were grown in climate chambers and subjected to defined stress conditions i.e. cold/wet and hot/dry. According to the authors, this is the first study to report on whether there is a relationship between transgene expression and protein production in Bt maize under changing environmental conditions.

Ombudsman asked to investigate maladministration at the EU Commission

Testbiotech has filed a complaint to the European Ombudsman against the EU Commission. It has submitted evidence of incorrect or inadequate statements regarding the declaration of interests of experts involved in the so-called GRACE project. The GRACE project was initiated to investigate methods for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. However, a recent GRACE publication on a feeding trial with rats makes no mention of relevant data indicating health impacts.

Europe urged to stop authorisation of genetically engineered maize for cultivation

The European Food Safety Authority has started an investigation into the safety of growing genetically engineered maize in Europe following the publication of the biggest study on maize pollen published to date. Friends of the Earth Europe and Testbiotech have called on the EU to immediately suspend the growing of GM maize and to stop all future approvals.

German government accused of failing to take action

Testbiotech today published a report on how the biotech and food industry are influencing risk research and decisions within the responsible German authorities. According to the analysis, even leading experts in German government agencies and institutions dealing with risk research in food safety and agricultural genetic engineering are compromised by conflicts of interest.

New doubts about the credibility of the EU project GRACE

The EU Commission has replied to the Testbiotech report on a feeding trial with genetically engineered maize conducted as part of the EU GRACE project. However, the Commission does not discuss in detail the points raised. Instead, it is emphasised that the participation of industry is generally intended within this project. As the report of Testbiotech showed, the publication of the results of the trial with rats fed with genetically engineered maize MON810 makes no mention of indications of health impacts in the rats.

In a letter to the new EU-Commissioner Testbiotech demands access to further data

The EU project GRACE, has published a first response to Testbiotech’s exposure of flaws in a rat feeding study with genetically engineered maize. In an open letter to Testbiotech, Joachim Schiemann, coordinator of the GRACE Consortium, rejected the objections raised by Testbiotech. At the same time, he neither rebutted Testbiotech’s critique nor did he address the network of vested interests around the publication. In regard to the toxicological data, he mostly repeated what was already stated in the study and therefore criticised by Testbiotech.

Evaluation of data from feeding trial with genetically engineered maize MON810 indicates negative health impact in rats

Testbiotech has today published an independent evaluation of data from feeding trials with rats that were conducted under the GRACE project funded by the EU Commission. The rats were fed over a period of 90 days with genetically engineered maize MON810, which produces an insecticidal protein. The results were published in October 2014 in the journal Archives of Toxicology. The authors conclude that there were no relevant observable toxicological effects. However, an evaluation by Testbiotech has now revealed indications of negative health impacts on kidneys, liver and pancreas.

Industry pushes for fast-track authorisation

Testbiotech is warning that the EU Commission might soon rush to give market authorisation to nine genetically engineered plants, all at the same time. This is a crucial decision about allowing about eight genetically engineered crop plants for import and usage in food and feed. Member States have already voted on these applications, but there was no qualified majority either in favour or against. Further, the Commission might allow maize 1507 for cultivation at any time soon.

Report by German authorities on the most commonly used herbicide criticised as inadequate

In a report published today, Testbiotech is highlighting the ongoing inadequacies in the risk assessment of the herbicide, glyphosate. The weed killer is sold under brand names such as Roundup. At the beginning of this year, German authorities published a Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) as part of an EU reevaluation process for the most widely used weed killer. According to the German authorities, there were no risks to health, and it was even suggested that the acceptable daily thresholds for long term exposure (ADI) to which consumers could be exposed might be raised.

Unintended effects might be favourable to the spread of pest insects

A new scientific publication co-authored by Monsanto employees, is warning that the cultivation of the genetically modified soybean Intacta (MON 87701 × MON 89788) could promote the spread of specific pest insects. According to the authors, the effects are likely to be caused by unintended effects in the plants, possibly arising from the insertion of the additional DNA. The genetically engineered soybean produced by Monsanto is resistant to herbicides containing glyphosate and produces a Bt insecticide.

International Conference in South Korea - a starting point?

On 29 of September an international Conference of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol will start in South Korea. Amongst others it will deal with the issue of unintended transboundary movements of genetically engineered organisms. A broad coalition of organisations are calling for initiatives to stop the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. Testbiotech is demanding that the EU Member States take the lead in initiatives.

Testbiotech demands application for the placing on the market to be refused

Testbiotech is accusing the European Food Safety Authority EFSA of deliberately playing down the risks of an uncontrolled spread of genetically modified oilseed rape. The cause for concern is an application filed by Monsanto for the import into the EU of viable transgenic oilseed rape MON88302 kernels, which are to be processed to oil and feed in Europe. Similar rape plants have already spread far beyond the fields in various regions of the world, for example along transport routes.

Organisations urge German government to set higher ethical standards

In an open letter, several organisations urge the German government to take action against the rise in the number of animal experiments with genetically engineered animals. The letter was drawn up collectively by the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt, Ärzte gegen Tierversuche e.V., Bund gegen Missbrauch der Tiere, Jane Goodall Institute Germany, Gen-ethisches Netzwerk, Gesellschaft für ökologische Forschung, Menschen für Tierrechte – Bundesverband der Tierversuchsgegner, No Patents on Life!, TASSO e.V., Testbiotech and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.

German government urged to take action to stop the flow of transgenes into the environment

In a letter addressed to the German government, ten organisations are warning that genetically modified rapeseed could spread uncontrollably throughout the EU. The letter voices concern about a current European Food Safety Authority EFSA opinion, which argues in favour of an EU import approval for Monsanto's rapeseed MON88302. The glyphosate-resistant plant is to be imported in the form of viable seeds and, in Europe, will only be processed into feed.

Testbiotech demands EU authorisation is stopped
Munich / Brussels, 02 June 2014

In a letter to the EU Commission, Testbiotech is once more asking for the market authorisation of genetically engineered maize 1507 to be stopped. The reason for this letter is a statement received from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concerning two Testbiotech reports. In its statement, EFSA fails to invalidate the crucial points raised by Testbiotech. The authority defends its own risk assessment but cannot disprove the substantial lack of relevant and sufficiently reliable data.

Coalition calls for the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to take action

Today sees the start of an international call by a broad coalition of organisations to stop the spread of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. The initiative says that binding regulations must be implemented to prevent the release of genetically engineered plants that can persist and invade the environment or lead to transgene flow into native populations or local varieties at centres of origin and of genetic diversity. The organisations will be approaching the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and encouraging them to become actively involved.

Munich, 15 May 2014

Today the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich decided upon a patent held by Ovasort (UK) covering human sperm cells and the gender selection of offspring (EP1263521). Testbiotech filed an opposition because the patent violated the ethical boundaries of patent law. The opposition was successful and the patent has now been completely revoked.

Next May 7, Member States sitting in the Council of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) will vote to appoint seven members of the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). EFSA is responsible for the risk assessment of all issues related to food and feed safety in the EU including genetically engineered plants, pesticides and food additives. Its Management Board is the food agency's governing body, also in charge of its independence.

Australian company Bionomics holds patent on human genes and genetically engineered great apes
Munich, 30 April 2014

Almost a dozen organisations have filed a joint opposition against a European Patent (EP1364025) granted to the Australian company Bionomics. The company is claiming human genes that have a link to cancer as its invention. According to the patent, the human DNA will be used to genetically engineer chimpanzees and other animal species such as pigs, sheeps, cats and dogs. Consequently, these animals may have a higher risk of developing cancer and will be used in animal experiments.

Will the EU Commission give the green light for cultivation in May?
Munich, 10 April 2014

In just a few weeks time the EU Commission could give permission for the commercial cultivation of maize 1507. According to an exchange of letters between the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the authority is currently assessing relevant documents including some reports from Testbiotech, the results of which might be available at the end of April. If EFSA declares it has found no new evidence, the EU Commission can authorise the maize that was jointly developed by Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred / DuPont.

Meta-analysis shows data are insufficient to conclude on the safety of the plants
Munich/ Brussels, 09 February 2014

Testbiotech made a first meta-analysis of some of the data on genetically engineered maize 1507 submitted by industry to authorities in the EU, the US, Australia and New Zealand for their approval procedures. Correct data on the Bt content of the plants is a fundamental prerequisite for a reliable environmental risk assessment of these plants. However the assessment and comparison of the data has revealed huge variations in the amounts of Bt toxin in the plants, and further shows that 1507 maize plants are neither sufficiently homogenous nor predictable.

Growing of genetically engineered plants likely to increase spraying of “agent orange herbicide” - if approved, it could be imported into the EU as GM animal feed
Munich / Brussels, 27 January 2014

Testbiotech, GeneWatch UK and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Europe today are publishing a detailed report on the herbicide 2,4-D. Several applications for import into the EU of genetically engineered plants being made resistant against 2,4-D are currently pending. Some of these plants have been engineered to be resistant to several herbicides at once. Especially in the US these plants being resistant to 2,4-D are close to being allowed for commercial cultivation.

Future of genetically engineered organisms, new synthetic genome technologies and the planned free trade agreement TTIP
Munich/Berlin/Brussels, 23 January 2014

Today, Testbiotech is publishing a new report on future developments in agro-biotechnology and genetic engineering. It focuses on genetically engineered organisms pending for market authorisation in the EU and those that are in the pipeline and might soon be on the market. Special attention has been given to new genome technologies. Furthermore, it includes a discussion of the potential influence of the planned free trade agreement (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP) on the authorisation of new genetically engineered organisms for use in agriculture and food production. The report was written for Martin Häusling from the Green Group in European Parliament.

Appeal to EU Commissioner Borg to withdraw the genetically engineered maize from the market
Munich/Brussels, 09 January 2014

Testbiotech filed a complaint against the decision of the EU Commission to allow SmartStax in food and feed. In November 2013, the EU Commission allowed this maize to be imported into the EU. By filing the complaint, Testbiotech wants the EU Commission to withdraw market authorisation. According to EU regulations, the EU Commission has two months to respond. After due process of the complaint, it might be possible to forward the case to Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Brussels / Munich, 16 December 2013

The European Ombudsman has made a final judgement on the Testbiotech complaint about a conflict of interest at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The case concerns Mr. Harry Kuiper, who was chair of the GMO Expert Panel from 2003-2012. After inspecting the files at the offices of EFSA in Parma, the Ombudsman says they could not identify any conflict of interest in the period from 2009-2012. However, the most relevant period of time from 2003-2005 was excluded from detailed investigation.

Testbiotech report shows substantial failures in work of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and in decision making of the EU Commission
Munich/ Brussels , 11 December 2013

According to a proposal of the EU Commission, genetically engineered maize 1507 will be approved for cultivation in the EU. The Member States of the EU are due to vote on maize 1507 within the next few weeks, and the European Parliament is currently preparing a resolution for next Tuesday. Maize 1507 is genetically engineered to produce a Bt toxin and was made resistant to the herbicide glufosinate. As a new report of Testbiotech shows, there is no doubt that maize 1507 poses a high level of risk to the environment.

Brussels, 03 December 2013

The European Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate (SANCO) has short-listed a Director of the biggest EU food industry lobby group FoodDrinkEurope among the candidates to the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Ms. Beate Kettlitz works in a leading position for the lobby group, which represents all major European food and drink corporations.

Call for clear ethical standards
Munich, 21 November 2013

A joint letter from twelve organisations sent to investors in companies filing patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees was published today. Companies filing patents on genetically engineered great apes include Altor BioScience (US), Bionomics (Australia) and Intrexon (US). Research conducted at the European Patent Office in Munich shows that five patents claiming genetically engineered great apes have already been granted to some of these companies, and a dozen further patent applications have been filed.

Contamination in biodiversity will burden following generations

Today Testbiotech published the first global overview showing how genetically engineered plants such as maize, rice, cotton, oilseed rape, bentgrass and poplar trees are spreading uncontrollably. This is happening in regions and countries such as the USA and Canada, Middle America, Japan, China, Australia and Europe. In many cases, the plants have escaped far beyond the fields into the environment. In some regions, the transgenes have already moved into populations of wild relatives.

Maize 1507 for cultivation to be decided soon
Brussels / Munich, 06 November 2013

The EU Commission today authorised the controversial genetically engineered maize SmartStax for food and feed. The decision was taken despite thousands of protest mails being sent to the Commission. Testbiotech and experts from EU Member States have previously pointed out many flaws in the risk assessment performed by Monsanto, DowAgroSciences and the European Food Safety Authority, (EFSA). Testbiotech will now file an official complaint against the Commission decision.

Testbiotech publishes findings from investigations in Argentina
Munich / Buenos Aires, 22 October 2013

Today, Testbiotech will publish its findings from a pilot project initiated to analyse herbicide residues in soybean crops grown in Argentina. The samples were taken shortly before the harvest was due, and analysed by a laboratory at the University of Buenos Aires. The results showed surprisingly high levels of residue in plants that had been sprayed with glyphosate. Almost 100mg/kg were found in one of the samples. In seven of eleven samples, the level of residue was above the international maximum residue level of 20 mg/ kg allowed for food and feed products. The samples were taken from fields in Argentina in regions that are known for the cultivation of genetically engineered soybeans. Nearly all the soybeans grown in Argentina are genetically engineered, and made resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (brands such as Roundup). These soybeans were originally developed by the US company Monsanto.

How to prevent uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered plants?
Munich, 08 October 2013

A legal dossier commissioned by Testbiotech and published today highlights substantial gaps in the current EU regulation of genetically engineered organisms. According to the dossier, it cannot be ruled out that genetically engineered plants are allowed for cultivation in the EU, even if they can spread without control in the environment. In the light of these findings, Testbiotech is urging a strengthening of the precautionary principle.

US company to offer methods for the selection blue eyes, longer life and athletic properties for offspring
Munich, 04 October 2013

The US company 23andMe has received a US patent for the selection of human sperm cells and oocytes (US8543339). Genetic data can be collected from which potential parents can choose donors according to criteria such as eye colour, longer life span and athletic properties.

Monsanto, the EFSA, the UK Government and the EU Commission all joining forces against civil society
Munich/ Luxembourg, 25 September 2013

Monsanto, the British Government, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the EU Commission are joining forces in EU Court proceedings to prevent risky genetically engineered soybeans from being withdrawn from the food market.

Plants can no longer be withdrawn from the environment
Munich/Calgary, 17 September 2013

Today Testbiotech has published a global overview of countries where there has been an uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered oilseed rape (canola). The countries include Canada, the US, Japan, Australia and Europe. In many cases the plants have escaped far beyond the fields into the environment. In some cases, the transgenes have moved into populations of wild relatives. Furthermore, new combinations of DNA constructs have been found which were never approved for release into the environment. The overview has been published to coincide with the international conference (ABIC) in Calgary, where agro-biotech industry representatives are gathering.

Decision concerns at least four applications for insecticidal and herbicide tolerant maize
Parma/Munich, 26 August 2013

Monsanto has now withdrawn at least four applications after it announced that it would no longer push for the cultivation of new genetically engineered plants in the EU. The decisions concern genetically engineered maize (Mon89034, NK603 x MON810, MON89034 x Nk603, Mon89034x Mon88017) which produce insecticidal proteins and/ or is made resistant to herbicide glyphosate („Roundup“). This information is derived from the register of European Food Safety Authority EFSA. There are more applications pending from Monsanto for transgenic plants such as maize, soy, sugar beet which still seem to be valid.

Bionomics granted patent on human genes and genetically engineered great apes
Munich, 08 August 2013

The European Patent Office (EPO) has again granted a patent that covers genetically engineered chimpanzees and other non-human primates. EP1364025 was granted on 31 July 2013 to Bionomics (Australia). The company claims human genes presumed to play a role in the prevention of cancer as an invention. According to the patent, the genes will be used to genetically manipulate the chimpanzees. As a result of the genetic manipulation, the great apes can have a higher risk of developing cancer.

Experiments may affect the production of olives
Munich, 01 August 2013

The UK company Oxitec is planning to release genetically engineered olive flies into the environment in Spain (Catalonia) and Italy. The male insects are genetically manipulated in such a way that female descendants will die as larvae. The intention is to reduce the populations of olive flies. The larvae of these insects live inside the olives and can cause substantial economical damage. Oxitec plans to release an unspecified number of its genetically engineered male insects in Spain, near the town of Tarragona. The field trial will be netted to try to prevent the flies from escaping.

Ten new variants of genetically engineered maize on the agenda for 11 July
Munich/ Brussels, 01 July 2013

On 11 July, the EU Commission and representatives from EU Member States will meet again to vote on the market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize SmartStax for use in food and feed. SmartStax is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences crop plant that produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. Together with SmartStax, another nine new variants of genetically engineered maize will be on the agenda in July, all of them produce insecticidal toxins and are resistant to herbicides. One is sold under the brand name Powercore. Furthermore, pollen from genetically engineered maize MON810 is about to receive an authorisation for usage in food such as honey.

Monsanto´s genetically engineered maize produces six different insecticides
Munich/Brussels, 03 June 2013

On 10 June, the EU Commission and representatives from EU Member States are set to discuss and probably vote on the market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize SmartStax for use in food and feed. SmartStax is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product that produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. Although dossiers from the industry showed substantial flaws its market authorisation was viewed favourably by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2010. For example, combinatorial effects between the insecticidal toxins and the residues from spraying were never investigated. So far, SmartStax is not authorised for sale on the EU market. In December 2012, Testbiotech raised the alarm warning that the maize might have already entered the market illegally. Instead of stopping imports, the Commission is now pressing ahead by trying to force a decision through allowing SmartStax for use in food and feed.

European Food Safety Authority mishandled a major revolving doors case with biotechnology company Syngenta
Brussels/Munich, 29 May 2013

In a May 23d ruling, the EU Ombudsman stated that EFSA (European Food Safety Authority ) failed to take adequate measures to prevent conflict of interests arising from a major 'revolving doors' case in 2008.

German civil society groups urge parliament and the government to fight the influence of industry
Munich, 16 May 2013

Today a broad coalition of civil society groups in Germany are starting a petition calling on the German Parliament to strengthen the position of independent risk research especially in the field of biotechnology. “Despite criticism raised by many sides, the German government has not yet taken any action. Our petition gives the German parliament an opportunity to send a clear signal”, says Ruth Tippe for the Gene-Ethic Foundation which officially filed the petition.

14000 signatures against patents held by US company Intrexon
Munich, 03 May 2013

After more than 14.000 people signed a petition, several organisations have filed an opposition against the European patent EP1572862 held by the US company, Intrexon. The patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2012 and claims many animal species including chimpanzees. According to the patent, the company wants to manipulate the animals with artificial DNA synthesized in partial analogy to the genome of insects. Intrexon is working in the field of “synthetic biology” and aims to produce animals with changed gene regulation to sell to the pharmaceutical industry.

EU project GRACE holds conference in Berlin
Munich/Berlin, 22 April 2013

Today, the participants of the international research project GRACE (GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence) meet in Berlin. Future guidelines for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants are the centre of this project, and its outcomes could have far-reaching consequences for approval procedure and risk research in the EU. A Testbiotech report published today shows significant conflicts of interest between leading GRACE experts and the biotech industry. Testbiotech is calling for the project to be stopped and an independent review carried out.

Environmental organisations and scientists jointly bring the case to the European Court of Justice
Munich/ Luxembourg, 21 March 2013

The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), the Society for Ecological Research, the foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection, the Foundation on Future Farming, the non-profit organisation Sambucus and Testbiotech are challenging a decision made by the EU Commission to authorise a new genetically engineered Monsanto soybean at the European Court of Justice.

A broad coalition against another patent on chimpanzees
Munich, 07 March 2013

Thirteen organisations from Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain are about to file a joint opposition against a patent on genetically engineered chimpanzees granted to the US company, Altor. Patent EP1409646 was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in June 2012. It allows chimpanzees to be manipulated to make their DNA similar to that of humans, and then used in pharmaceutical research. The joint opposition argues that this patent violates ethical provisions in patent law.

SmartStax produces six different insecticides
Munich/Brussels, 20 December 2012

Munich/ Brussels 20 December 2012. Testbiotech has informed the new Commissioner Tonio Borg about its suspicions that the genetically engineered maize, SmartStax, has been imported into the EU for years without legal authorisation. It is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences product, which produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. SmartStax was assessed by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA in 2010, but the results of the assessment were controversial and the maize was not authorised.

Patent violates ethical boundaries of European patent law
Munich, 15 November 2012

Eleven organisations from Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain have filed a joint opposition against a patent on genetically engineered chimpanzees granted to the US company Intrexon. Patent EP1456346 was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in February 2012. The animals will be manipulated with synthetic DNA originating from insects and are intended for use in pharmaceutical research. The joint opposition argues that this patent violates ethical provisions in patent law.

London/ Munich, 08 November 2012

A briefing published today by public interest groups highlights how regulatory decisions on GM insects in Europe and around the world are being biased by corporate interests (1).

Bias in assessing scientific evidence for risks of genetically engineered plants
Munich, 30 October 2012

In a new backgrounder, Testbiotech shows that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) uses double standards in assessing scientific publications. According to an analysis presented today, the authority applies differing standards to assess risks of genetically engineered plants and EFSA´s findings appear to be influenced by assumptions.

Initiative urges more respect for animals
Munich/ Berlin, 22 October 2012

In 2012 the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted three patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees as recent research carried out by No Patents On Life shows. The animals are intended for use in pharmaceutical research. A joint initiative of several organisations is preparing legal oppositions against these patents and urging their legal prohibition. They are warning that such patents can create commercial incentives to run more animal experiments with chimpanzees and calling for animals to be treated with more respect.

EFSA opinion not sufficient to prove safety of relevant products
Munich/ Parma, 04 October 2012

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) published their opinion on a French study that found severe impacts on the health of rats fed with genetically engineered maize NK603 or exposed to a low dosage of herbicides. The authorities conclude that the study does not provide final evidence of health risks.

Joint action of environmental organisations and scientists against decision of the EU Commission
Munich/ Brussels, 09 August 2012

Several organisations such as the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) are filing a complaint against a decision of the EU Commission to authorise a new genetically engineered Monsanto soybean. The soybeans will be mostly sold and grown in Brazil under the brand name Intacta, the harvest will be imported to the EU for use in food and feed. The new genetically engineered soybean expresses an insecticidal protein and is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup.

EFSA requested to publish new opinions
Munich/Brussels, 18 July 2012

Recent investigations reveal that new approvals for the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Europe in 2012 are unlikely. The Commission returned the dossiers for three maize lines to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). MON810, Bt11 and maize 1507 have all been considered safe by EFSA numerous times. In a letter to the EU Commission, EFSA announces a new opinion on maize MON810 till December.

But new legal dossier shows current authorisation practice violates EU law
Munich/Brussels, 22 June 2012

The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has for the first time given a positive opinion on the cultivation of genetically engineered soy in the EU. Now the EU Commission and Member States have to make a decision on final market authorisation. The applicant, US company Monsanto, wants to sell its seeds for herbicide tolerant Roundup Ready soy to European farmers. Currently, the genetically engineered soy can be imported but not grown.

Conflicts of interest at government authorities and German Research Foundation (DFG)
Munich, 24 May 2012

A new Testbiotech report reveals some, at least partially, hidden networks enabling the biotech industry to influence state authorities and research institutions dealing with genetically engineered plants. The authorities involved include the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the research institutes of the German ministry of agriculture (BMELV) and a committee at the German Research Foundation (DFG). The report identifies 17 experts with conflicts of interest.

Company Ovasort holds a patent on sex selection
Munich, 15 May 2012

Testbiotech has filed an opposition to a patent (EP1263521) held by Ovasort (UK). The patent covers human sperm cells selected for their sex intended for use in in-vitro fertilisation and the production of female offspring. The patent violates European Patent law, which prohibits patents on human germ cells and the development of the human body. Nevertheless, the European Patent Office has granted such patents several times.

Brussels, 09 May 2012

Upon request of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Diána Bánáti has resigned on 8 May as member and Chair of the Management Board with immediate effect. She has decided to take up a professional position at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI).

EFSA did not stop revolving doors
Munich/ Brussels, 18 April 2012

For the first time, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) admits that it did not take the necessary action to stop revolving doors. EFSA states that “regrettably” the authority did not follow up the relevant information. Further, the authority acknowledges that it has strengthened internal rules in response.

Cultivation of new genetically engineered maize could cause problems in the EU
Munich/Brussels, 26 March 2012

Today Testbiotech is publishing a new backgrounder warning that the insecticide producing genetically engineered maize MON88017 might help pest insects become even more harmful. Researchers in a US laboratory have shown that the pest insects, known as corn rootworm, may not only become resistant to the insecticide producing maize plants, but the development of the larvae can be speeded up and fertility higher. Thus, commercial cultivation of these plants could result in helping the pest insects that are also known as the 'one billion dollar bug', to spread even quicker in the fields.

Complaint filed with the EU Ombudsman
Munich/ Brussels, 21 March 2012

Testbiotech, supported by Corporate Observatory Europe (CEO), is today filing a new complaint with the EU Ombudsman questioning the independence of the chair of the panel of experts tasked with assessing the risk of new genetically engineered plants entering the European Union. Harry Kuiper has chaired the GMO Panel at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) since 2003 but has also maintained strong ties with International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) including taking part in a task force led by a Monsanto employee.

Brussels/ Munich, 08 March 2012

The European Commission has recommended that one of Europe's chief food lobbyists – who is also a former Monsanto employee – sits on the management board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Testbiotech and Corporate Europe Observatory say that the appointment of Mella Frewen, lobby chief at FoodDrinkEurope (previously known as the CIAA) will create a conflict of interests for the food agency's management board.

Testbiotech and Gen-ethisches Netzwerk are calling for an official opinion
Munich/Berlin, 02 March 2012

The NGOs Testbiotech and Gen-ethische Netzwerk (GeN) have today published an open letter addressed to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, calling on her to stop the creation of new variations of the bird flu virus and back limited access to genetic data. Scientists have been able to manufacture an H5N1 type virus in the laboratory, which is extremely dangerous for mammals. The researchers agreed on 20 January 2012 to a moratorium in order to give the public an opportunity to take up a position on this issue.

Bt protein toxic to human cells
Caen/ Munich, 17 February 2012

Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered plants can be detrimental to human cells. This is a result of recent research led by researchers at the University of Caen (France). Their experiments showed that toxins produced in, for example, the genetically engineered maize MON810, can significantly impact the viability of human cells. The effects were observed with relatively high concentrations of the toxins, nevertheless there is cause for concern. For the first time, experiments have now shown that they can have an toxic effect to human cells.

Rising doubts about safety of genetically engineered plants
Bruxelles, 02 February 2012

In a letter to Commissioner Dalli, Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK give new evidence of EFSA´s failure to perform risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. A detailed analysis of original documents as filed by Monsanto for their genetically engineered maize sold under brand of Genuity VT Triple PRO shows that crucial documents do not meet the standards of so called Good Laboratory Practice (GLP standards).

Testbiotech offers overview of EU authorisations
Munich, 15 December 2011

Testbiotech is today publishing a database designed to give an overview of the risks associated with genetically engineered plants allowed for marketing in the European Union, or being about to be authorised soon. The current version of the database, called PlantGeneRisk, gives an overview of thirteen genetically engineered crops, four soy plants and nine maize plants. Ten of these plants already have EU authorisation for use, import and usage in food and feed, one of them is also allowed for cultivation.

European Food Safety Authority official moved to biotech industry
Munich/ Brussels, 08 December 2011

The European Ombudsman has ruled in favour of a complaint filed by Testbiotech against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its approach to the 'revolving doors'. The case concerns a former senior staff member at EFSA, Dr. Suzy Renckens, who was head of the unit responsible for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. Dr Renckens then moved to a job at Syngenta, a company that produces and markets these plants.

“Black List” of European Patents published
Munich, 28 November 2011

Today Testbiotech is publishing a “Black List” of European Patents that have already been granted. Ten examples, granted since 2009, were selected for the list in cooperation with the Initiative “No Patents on Life”. It is shown that even chimpanzees have been patented after being genetically manipulated to suffer from epilepsy so that they can be used by the pharmaceutical industry (EP1852505).

New publication shows inadequacies in risk assessment
Munich, 21 November 2011

A new publication by an international research consortium has revealed several inadequacies in current approaches to risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. The publication deals with methods used for measurement in so-called Bt-plants. These plants produce an insecticidal protein ( a so-called Bt toxin) that originates from soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). One example is maize MON810 which is cultivated in some countries in the EU, many others can be imported and used in food and feed.

Discussion amongst experts from EU member states in Brussels
Munich/Brussels, 14 November 2011

Today experts from EU Member States will meet in Brussels to discuss two applications for marketing genetically engineered soybeans developed by Monsanto and Bayer. Both kinds of soybean have been engineered to be tolerant to herbicides, so that they can be sprayed directly with glyphosate (known as Roundup) or glufosinate (known as Liberty or Basta) without being damaged. As a consequence, residues from the herbicide absorbed by the plant tissues remain in the plants. The marketing applications cover import and use in food and feed.

European Food Safety Authority under fire because of strong ties with industry
Brussels, 11 October 2011

Civil society groups will raise concerns about the independence of the European Food Safety Authority at a key stakeholder meeting on Wednesday 12 October, following a series of allegations concerning conflicts of interest and close ties to industry.

European Food Safety Agency EFSA prepares first Guidance for risk assessment for food from genetically engineered animals
München/Parma, 30 September 2011

The European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, is for the first time preparing for the authorisation of food derived from genetically engineered animals. After a period of consultation, today is the last day for comments on a first draft of the new EFSA Guidance that will be used to perform risk assessment on relevant products. According to this draft Guidance, EFSA plans to assess the risks of products such as milk, meat, eggs in a way very similar to that used for genetically engineered plants. Issues such as animal welfare and consumer interests are not taken into account.

European Food Authority EFSA in favour of market approval
Munich/Parma, 11 August 2011

The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has recently published new favorable opinions on two genetically engineered soy. In their dossiers EFSA for the first time confirms unintended changes in the composition of the components of genetically engineered plants. The invasive methods used in genetic engineering cause disturbances in plant metabolism in regard to content of fatty acids, amino acids (Dupont/Pioneer, soy 356043) and vitamin E (Monsanto, soy MON87701).

Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK formally request withdrawal of EU market authorisation of Monsanto´s genetically engineered maize Genuity VT Triple PRO Corn with synthetic toxins.
Bruxelles, 28 July 2011

The non-profit organisations Testbiotech (Germany) and GeneWatch UK have submitted a formal request to the European Commission re-examine market authorisation of a genetically engineered maize produced by Monsanto sold under brand Genuity VT Triple PRO Corn (event MON89034 x MON 88017) that produces a synthetic toxin, intended to kill insect pests. This maize was approved for usage in food and feed by the EU Commission on 17th of June. It produces a combination of three different insecticidal toxins, one of which is synthesised artificially.

Risk assessment of genetically engineered plants undermined by industry and EFSA
Munich, 28 June 2011

In a new report, Testbiotech examines and publishes data from industry. The data were prepared by industry and presented to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the risk assessment of a genetically engineered maize. The material was leaked to Testbiotech at beginning of 2011. It concerns a type of maize called SmartStax. Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences developed the plants, which are derived from crosses between several genetically engineered plants. SmartStax produces six different insecticidal toxins and is tolerant to two herbicides.

Just how risky are the toxic compounds in genetically engineered plants?
Munich/Berlin, 29 April 2011

Testbiotech is warning that toxic compounds found in genetically engineered plants are increasingly burdening the food chain. Particular reasons for concern are raised about residues from herbicides and insecticides. Though it is known that the amount of residues in the plants is increasing, there are hardly any controls and risk assessment is insufficient. The report was commissioned by Ulrike Hoefken, a Green Member of the German Parliament.

Irreführende Angaben zur staatlichen Förderung, Verharmlosung der Risiken
München/ Berlin, 06 April 2011

Das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung macht irreführende Angaben zur finanziellen Förderung der Synthetischen Biologie. Auf eine Anfrage des Bundestagsabgeordneten Rene Röspel (SPD) antwortet das Ministerium von Annette Schavan (BT-Drs. 17/4898), dass es seit 2005 keine Forschungs- und Entwicklungsprojekte in diesem Bereich gefördert habe. Nach Recherchen von Testbiotech ist diese Aussage nicht korrekt.

EU Commissioner for Trade: Products from offspring of cloned animals already on the market
Munich, Bruxelles, 03 March 2011

A non-public EU Commission paper confirms that food from offsprings of cloned animals are already on the European market. The animals get into the market via the import of breeding material from the US. The EU Trade Commission argues that in future too these products should not be regulated, labelled or controlled for unexpected risks, because so far no systems have been established for registering the animals in exporting countries such as the US.

Commercial planting in India currently barred
Munich, New Delhi, 14 January 2011

Plans for India’s first genetically engineered crop for human consumption have triggered a safety report that reveals signs of food toxicity. According to this study prepared independently from industry, there are serious indications that the consumption of this genetically engineered (Bt) eggplant (also called brinjal in India) can cause inflammation, reproductive disorders and liver damage.

Call for independent risk research
Munich, 01 December 2010

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.

Experts from the European Food Safety Authority are collaborating with companies such as Monsanto
Munich-Parma, 19 November 2010

There is close collaboration between experts on the GMO Panel of the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and the biotech industry. The chair of the GMO expert panel which is dealing with risk assessment of genetically engineered plants, Harry Kuiper, and a second expert from the same panel, Gijs Kleter, have for years been working with the International Life Science Institute (ILSI).

Food market to be flooded with products not tested for health risks
Munich-Parma, 04 November 2010

European Food Safety Agency EFSA has given a positive opinion on the authorisation of genetically engineered maize that inherits eight technically inserted gene sequences. The maize (corn) with brand name SmartStax, will be authorised for use in food and feed within the EU. It produces six different insecticidal Bt-proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides. Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences developed the plants, which are derived from crosses between several genetically engineered plants. Plants produced like this are called 'stacked events'.

The risk to the environment from artificial organisms could get out of control
Munich, 16 September 2010

Artificial organisms are being developed to produce new kinds of biofuels with a higher efficiency, so called “synthifuels”. Testbiotech is today releasing a new report on Synthetic Biology, which draws attention to the economic interests behind synthifuels and the risk associated with synthetic Organisms.

Traces of genetically engineered maize and soy in goats, fish and pigs
Munich, 19 August 2010

A recent Testbiotech survey shows that DNA fragments from transgenic plants are increasingly found in animal tissue such as milk, inner organs and muscles. Most recently, in April 2010, scientists from Italy reported DNA sequences stemming from genetically engineered soy in milk from goats. These DNA fragments are presumably, entering the blood stream from the gut and then from there reaching the udder and the milk. Traces of specific DNA were also identified in kids fed with the goat’s milk.

Testbiotech calls for new concept in risk assessment
Munich, 26 July 2010

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.

Testbiotech report presented by the Greens in European Parliament
Munich / Strasbourg, 06 July 2010

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.

International appeal launched
Munich, 15 June 2010

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.

Testbiotech report warns market getting out of control
Munich / Brussels, 04 May 2010

Material from cloned animals and their offspring is likely to be on the European market already. There is currently no legal regulation which would effectively exclude these imports. No public register is available to provide transparency if cloned animals, their offspring or breeding material is imported into the EU.

EFSA acting irresponsibly says Testbiotech
Munich, 22 April 2010

A recent Testbiotech report showed that the risks associated with Bt maize 1507, which is about to be authorised for cultivation in the EU, were incorrectly assessed by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). Despite the fact that this type of maize has an an extremely high concentration of insecticide in its pollen the EFSA did not request any investigations be carried out on butterflies or other prevalent insects in Europe.

Merck Serono company even filed patents on transplantation of human organs and embryos
Munich, 14 April 2010

German based NGO Testbiotech has filed an opposition against a patent held by the Merck Serono company at the European Patent Office in Munich, Germany. Patent EP 1794287 covers a process for the production and use of human oocytes (egg cells). This claim is considered as being in conflict with European Patent law, which excludes patents on the human body at the various stages of its development.

Testbiotech warns that fields will turn into battlefields
Munich / Bremen, 25 March 2010

Large-scale cultivation of genetically engineered corn is causing the spread of a new pest in the US Corn Belt. The western bean cutworm infests the tips of the corncobs. Massive damage is being reported from those regions where the corn MON810 (sold as YieldGard by company of Monsanto) is grown on large scale.

NGOs file complaints to EU Ombudsman and Commission
Munich / Strassbourg, 24 March 2010

The Germany-based NGO Testbiotech has today filed an official complaint with the European Ombudsman against EFSA, the EU's food safety agency. The complaint targets EFSA's decision to allow Suzy Renckens, head of EFSA's GMO Unit, to become a lobbyist for biotech giant Syngenta, without any 'cooling off' period or other restrictions. Ms Renckens move to become a leading lobbyist for one of the major biotech companies in Europe implies an obvious conflict of interest.

Testbiotech warns that EU legislation will be eroded
Brussels, 01 March 2010

The EU Commission is planning to adopt large parts of the European Food Authority’s (EFSA) guidelines on the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants as an official part of EU regulations. The EFSA guidelines are controversial and widely disputed in public. They have been heavily criticized from many sides. Nevertheless, in future large parts of these guidelines might become the official interpretation of EU legislation in this context. EU regulations (e.g.

Testbiotech warns about new wave of patent applications
Munich, 17 February 2010

Today the European Patent Office in Munich is granting a patent on a cloning technology (EP 1711599) that was used by the team working with the controversial Korean researcher Hwang Woo-Suk. In comparison to the original application, the patent as granted is substantially reduced and now only covers the medium used for growing the cells. The patent was applied for in 2004 and originally claimed methods for producing and using of human embryos for the production of embryonic stem cells.

Munich/ Parma, 01 February 2010

Experts at Testbiotech have filed a statement to the EU Commission on an opinion given by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The statement concerns the genetically engineered oilseed rape GT73 produced by the US company Monsanto. This oilseed rape is genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate (also known under its brand name Roundup). The EFSA delivered a favourable opinion to allow further imports for use in the food chain. GT73 was assessed once before by the EFSA in 2004 (for details see: EFSA GMO watch, link).

Joint letter sent by NGOs to alert the EU Commission
Munich / Brussels, 21 January 2010

Four NGOs, Testbiotech, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO Brussels), Friends of the Earth Europe (FOE), and Lobbycontrol are now jointly addressing the EU Commission about a scandal involving a leading member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) who moved directly into the agribusiness company Syngenta. They are calling for a thorough investigation of the circumstances and urging the commission to take immediate action.

Authorities react only after Testbiotech disclosures
Munich / Parma, 14 January 2010

The former head of the GMO-panel at the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, Suzy Renckens, has moved directly into the genetic engineering industry without any objections or restrictions being imposed by the authority. This was revealed in documents sent by the EFSA upon request to the group of experts at Testbiotech, Germany.

Monsanto and Cargill withdraw joint application after EFSA concerns
Munich, Parma, 01 December 2009

The company of Renessen (a Monsanto and Cargill international joint venture) withdrew its application for market authorisation of the genetically engineered maize LY038. The decision was taken in April 2009, but was made public just recently by several stakeholders. According to documents received by Testbiotech e. V., the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, raised safety concerns related to the maize. Prior to the withdrawal the EFSA wrote several letters to Renessen asking for more information on the risk assessment of this product.

Testbiotech sees clash with ethical boundaries
Munich, 19 November 2009

In July 2009 the European Patent Office granted the Swiss company Merck Serono a patent on the ripening process of human egg cells including their use in in vitro fertilisation treatment. Once the patent was granted Merck Serono not only had a monopoly on the egg ripening process but also exclusive rights on the usage of the human eggs cells. Testbiotech believes that this new patent raises questions on the ethical boundaries of patent law.

Scientific coordinator of GMO panel moves to Syngent
Munich Parma, 10 November 2009

Munich/ Parma - A leading staff member of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has quit to work in industry. Suzy Renckens, scientific coordinator of the GMO panel, officially represented Syngenta in an expert hearing at EU level in 2008. She now holds a position there as Head of Biotech Regulatory Affairs for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The Swiss company Syngenta is one of the world’s leading producers of genetically engineered plants.

Initiative for more transparency in the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants
Munich, 05 November 2009

Today Testbiotech starts its EFSA GMO Watch Newsletter project. The newsletter will give an overview of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) activities concerning genetically engineered plants. Current reports from the EFSA and new applications from industry are the focus of this information service. The newsletter is directed towards journalists and interested parties. Testbiotech e. V. has further background information on its website (www.testbiotech.org/efsa/newsletter).

Experts at Testbiotech call for introduction of crash tests
München, 20 October 2009

Straßburg and Munich. - The experts at Testbiotech are for the first time going public with their new risk assessment concept for transgenic plants. Their report reveals a lack of safety testing in the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. Safety testing needs to be updated to reflect current research standards. Testbiotech calls for the introduction of crash tests for genetically engineered plants.