JRC News

  1. 12 May 2011

    The EU leads research in the field innovation in plant breeding, but still lags behind in patenting the resulting technologies, a JRC study reveals. The report notes that 45 % of peer-reviewed scientific research publications in the field worldwide are produced in the EU, followed by North America with 32 %. On the other hand, 65 % of the total patenting of resulting technologies is carried out by US-based institutions. Twenty six percent of patents are registered by EU-based institutions.

  2. 10 Nov 2010

    A new reference report published today by the JRC lists 79 reference methods for GMO analysis which have been validated according to international standards. This compendium, developed jointly by the EU Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Food and Feed (EU-RL GMFF) and the European Network of GMO Laboratories (ENGL), presents the technical state of the art in GMO detection methods. Each method is described in a user-friendly way, facilitating the implementation of GMO legislation by official control bodies.

  3. 27 Sep 2010

    Specific measures relating to storing and the application of isolation distances can help limit or avoid the co-mingling of genetically modified (GM) maize with conventional and organic maize, a report prepared by the European Coexistence Bureau (ECoB) concludes. The "Best Practice Document", published by the JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), notes that storing seeds adequately and applying spatial isolation (separation distances, buffer zones and/or discard zones) are the best ways to limit or avoid co-mingling. Alternative practices based on temporal isolation (shifting flowering times of GM and non-GM fields) are possible in several EU countries with specific climatic conditions.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.