JRC News

  1. 8 Jan 2008

    The conference aims to address the science and technology underpinning GMO control and analysis by bringing together international experts willing to share knowledge and participate in promoting international scientific dialogue across diverse yet interdependent areas such as:

  2. 15 Feb 2008

    On 13 February, the European Commission decided to require compulsory certification for the imports of Chinese rice products that could contain the unauthorised GMO Bt63. The decision has been taken after rice products -originating in, or consigned from, China and containing the unauthorised genetically modified rice “Bt 63”- were discovered in the EU market between 2006 and 2007.

  3. 31 Mar 2008

    After positive assessment from the European Food Safety authority (EFSA), the European Commission authorised imports of GM maize GA21 from countries where this variety is cultivated. The dossier followed the full authorisation procedure set out by the EU legislation including the validation of the detection method proposed by the applicant for this GM type by the Community Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed hosted at the JRC Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP). The Community Reference Laboratory organised and carried out the validation study in collaboration with the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL).

  4. 16 Apr 2008

    The JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) has published in Nature Biotechnology an analysis on the agronomic and economic performanes of the first GM crop cultivated in the EU. Currently, the only GM crop authorized for commercial cultivation in the EU is a GM maize resistant to certain pests, known as Bt maize. The EU Member State with the highest adoption rate of Bt maize by farmers is Spain, where the crop has been grown commercially 9 years. The Spanish case was selected to evaluate the agronomic and economic performance for farmers of Bt maize.

  5. 16 Feb 2009

    Today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, the JRC organised a scientific symposium on Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a service provided by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinics to parents who want to avoid passing on genetic diseases to their children.

    PGD entails carrying out genetic tests on embryos in a laboratory to identify those that have a healthy version of a given gene. These embryos can then be safely implanted in a mother's womb. Not be confused with the more far-reaching and separate issue of actual genetic engineering with a view to creating 'designer babies', PGD enables fertilisation clinics to select embryos for implantation so that at-risk families can avoid passing on genetic disease to their children and to subsequent generations. Nevertheless, many questions continue to surround the technique.

    The JRC-organised symposium on PDF featured Dr Tarek El Toukhy from St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, Susannah Baruch from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and the JRC's own Dolores Ibarreta from the JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) in Seville. It was moderated by Karen Sermon from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.

    A lively debate with the audience followed the session.

    EU legislation requires that the Community establish high quality and safety standards for the use of blood, organs and other substances of human origin. A JRC report in late 2007 showed that guidelines were urgently needed on the counselling of patients that opt to screen their embryos created by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for serious genetic disorders.

  6. 26 Mar 2009

    In today's edition of Nature (March 26) scientists from the JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) have published results from an on-going study conducted together with the European Techno-Economic Policy Support Network (ETEPS) with the support of EuroGentest, an EU-funded Network of Excellence (NoE) in the domain of genetic testing.

    The study, entitled "Intellectual Property and Diagnostics", contains a compilation of evidence on where and how a representative sample of laboratories is exploiting DNA patents. It analyses the impact of this behaviour on European companies and clinical laboratories engaged in the development and provision of genetic tests and socio-economic consequences for the development of diagnostics and patient access to these diagnostics.

    The purpose of such prospective studies, the speciality of JRC-IPTS, is to assess whether regulation at a European level in a given area is required.

    Conducted across Europe, the study notes that genetic testing laboratories have generally had little experience of dealing with patents and require more support to negotiate the changing patent landscape around them. However, in many cases laboratories also lack awareness, experience and support to resolve patent-related issues, in an environment where patents are of increasing prominence. Private and public health insurers may thus end up having to provide more support due to increased costs relating to patented tests.

    The concept of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is generally considered an important incentive for innovation as it facilitate the sharing of new knowledge and its application (invention) with the scientific community and society as a whole. In spite of its stimulating effect on innovation, it has been suggested that intellectual property also has the potential to inhibit research as a result of the proliferation of DNA patents, resulting in limited access to novel treatments and diagnostics, for example as a result of high licensing fees. Yet little empirical evidence exists on the actual impact that current patenting and licensing practices may have for the development and wider adoption of diagnostics. The study aims to fill this void.

    Sibylle Gaisser, Michael M. Hopkins, Kathleen Liddell, Eleni Zika & Dolores Ibarreta, "The phantom menace of gene patents", Nature 458, 407-408 (26 March 2009) | doi:10.1038/458407a

  7. 2 Apr 2009

    The European Commission has published a new report on national strategies to ensure the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming. The report notes that EU Member States have made significant progress in adopting legislation on coexistence, 15 having now done so, which is 11 more than in 2006 when the first coexistence report was published. Another 3 Member States have notified draft legislation to the Commission.

  8. 3 Sep 2009

    The number of commercialised genetically modified (GM) crops in the world is foreseen to multiply by four from about 30 today to over 120 in 2015. This is the forecast presented in the report "The global pipeline of new GM crops: implications of asynchronous approval for international trade", recently published by the JRC. It features a list of new GM crops expected to be commercialised ('in the pipeline') in various parts of the world and analyses their possible impact on international trade. The report notes that their increasing number may cause trade disruptions due to asynchronous approval.

  9. 30 Sep 2009

    Created in spring 2009 by a former JRC scientist, Plasmore is a spin-off company and a product of research at the JRC and the University of Pavia, Italy.