The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: France

Biotech Crop News Crops Up All Over

…with the EU on one side, and Cuba and the U.S. together on the other.

The EU’s council of environment ministers voted overwhelmingly yesterday to allow Austria and Hungary to maintain their empire ban on biotech crops.  When we noted this pending vote a couple of weeks ago, many reporters expected the ministers to be unable to reach a definitive result under the EU voting rules.  However, 22 of 27 ministers voted not to overturn the bans.  With other national bans active or possible in France, Greece and Germany, the European Commission will have its hands full if it continues its attempts in this area without a change in strategy.

On the other hand hemisphere:

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Ups and Downs for Biotech Crops in the EU

Quite an a-maize-ing week (sorry) for biotech crops in the EU:

  • The European Commission announced a proposal to end Austria’s ban on biotech maizes MON810 and T25, saying that Austria had not supplied scientific evidence that the specific nature of Austria’s ecology justified the ban.
  • A report from the French food safety agency, Afssa, saying MON810 is as safe as conventional maize leaked to the press just a few days before Envirmonent Minister Jean-Louis Borloo was due to appear before a committee of European biotech experts to justify France’s ban.   This prompted French Prime Minister Francois Fillon to say Thursday that “France is maintaining the suspension while it awaits a (European) Commission decision which it will respect.”
  • When the committee of experts met Monday, they did not have the “qualified majority” (a population-weighted test) to overturn the MON810 bans in France or Greece, the same result as in December when the voting was to lift similar bans in Austria and Hungary.  Now all four cases will be addressed by the EU’s council of ministers on March 2.
  • This apparently emboldened Germany’s Agriculture Minister, who said the German government may revoke the license it already issued for the GM crop.
  • Last, but not least, today the European Court of Justice issued a ruling that requires EU governments to make the location of GM crop field trials public.  Hopefully long jail terms will deter the “activists” who will no doubt be among those accessing the information.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:

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Wednesday Brain Dump: February 11, 2009

Deep Appreciation:for Phillip Terrence Ragon, founder and sole proprietor of database-software provider InterSystems who donated $100 million to establish a research institute that focuses on expediting the development of an AIDS vaccine, and to Pfizer Canada which contributed a further $2 million to British Columbia’s Center for Drug Research and Development (CDRD); and The State of Georgia is contemplating a $180 million bioscience research park.

Social Agitation: French scientists decided their street protests were their best approach to halting the government’s science and higher education reforms and rejected mediation.

Better Cogitation:Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) shows neuroprotective effects in animal models of Alzheimers’, but it won’t stop cries of ‘brain drain’ following Canada’s 2009 Budget.

Free Publication: ScienceInsider reports that Rep. Conyers’ (D-MI) bill that would eliminate free full-text publication of NIH-funded research is back on the table this session.

Self Regulation:More Pharma companies are implementing voluntary disclosure of physician payments (under threat of legislation); and some researchers are taking steps to prevent disclosures of potentially harmful research (under threat of annihilation).

Reconsideration: Researchers at Emory decided that flu pandemic deaths in 1918 may have been primarily from bacterial superinfections rather than the virus itself; Icahn decided to nominate another slate of Biogen-Idec directors; Everybody decided to take another look at their luciferase screening assay controls; and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) decided to take another look at payment for PSA testing for prostate cancer detection.

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Could Have Been Worse

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