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JRC News

field Coexistence rules include measures for segregation of GM and conventional crops
Apr 02 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.

dry land Increased occurence of droughts is one of the predicted effects of climate change
©Scott Liddell
Apr 01 2009

The European Commission presented today a White Paper outlining actions needed to strengthen the Union's resilience in coping with a changing climate. Recent findings indicate that the impacts of climate change will be swifter and more severe than indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their 2007 report. Europe will not escape these effects and must therefore prepare to cope with them.

Image From power plants to passports: safe digital data
Apr 01 2009

On 30 March the European Commission launched a policy initiative on the protection of Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs) such as telephone lines, fibre-optic cables and computer networks.

JRC Newsletter: monthly updates on latest news JRC Newsletter: monthly updates on latest news
Mar 31 2009

The March edition of the JRC Newsletter has been published and can be downloaded here. This month's issue includes an editorial by Leen Hordijk, Director of the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability and covers topics ranging from greener road transport to gene patents and the re-assessment of the half-life of uranium isotopes.

Reactor building: inspecting fuel stocks Reactor building: inspecting fuel stocks
©EC (2008)
Mar 27 2009

On 26 March, the European Commission adopted a Communication on nuclear non-proliferation, identifying possible actions to strengthen the EU's contribution to international efforts in this domain, including the development of an international system of guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel under the umbrella of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The document also presents the main instruments that the Community already has at its disposal to reduce the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

map Example of applied agrometeorology and biophysical modeling (click to see in full)
©EC (2009)
Mar 27 2009

On the occasion of the 4th Crop Growth Monitoring Systems (CGMS) expert meeting, held in Ispra last week, the JRC's Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) has released tools for agro-meteorology and biophysical modelling, including modelling solutions for biotic and abiotic (living and non-living) simulation of damage on plants and of other aspects relevant to agricultural production. Several reusable software components have also been released.

Analysis of DNA fragments on agarose gel Analysis of DNA fragments on agarose gel
©EC (2008)
Mar 26 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

Uranium cube Uranium cube from 1940s German nuclear programme
Mar 19 2009

The JRC has today released details of nuclear forensic work carried out on samples dating back to the early days of the technology's history: from Germany's World War II Programme. At a workshop for journalists held today, 19 March, on nuclear security and forensics at the JRC's Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU) in Karlsruhe, Germany, JRC scientists presented the results of nuclear forensic investigations into two samples dating back to the first German nuclear energy project, thought to have begun in 1939.

One sample, a uranium metal cube, was obtained from the Haigerloch Atomic Museum in Baden-Württemberg and originated from the German "Uranverein" nuclear programme under the scientific leadership of 1932 Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Werner Heisenberg. The second sample, a uranium metal plate, was obtained from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and is thought to have played a part in the work of Heisenberg's fellow researcher, Karl Wirtz.

Download the press release on German WWII nuclear programme forensics

truck in air quality lab Opening of the Vela 7 lab at JRC-IES
Mar 13 2009

A new facility at the Vehicle Emissions Laboratory of the JRC site in Ispra, Italy was opened today by European Research Commissioner Janez Poto nik. The latest JRC VELA 7 facility is the most advanced in Europe to test fuel consumption and related emissions of full size trucks and buses under simulated road driving conditions within a broad, realistic temperature range. To conduct the tests, the laboratory can host vehicles up to 40 tons and 12 metres and simulate wind drag, tyre/road friction as well as full drive cycles. VELA 7 will provide sound scientific data needed to support new legislation e.g. the upcoming Euro VI guideline which is aimed at reducing emissions of heavy duty vehicles.

schematic view Highly conceptualised centrifugal fuel cell (click to see in full)
Mar 11 2009

New technologies have been added to the JRC technology portfolio, an on-line catalogue presenting technologies of the JRC available for licensing or collaboration. Although the JRC focuses on providing scientific and technical support to EU policies, interesting results are often created as a by-product of the JRC workprogramme, and the JRC actively encourages the licensing of these results.