At its plenary session in Strasburg, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling upon the European Commission to work for a clarification of the scope of patentability under the EU’s Biopatenting Directive. Members of Parliament drafted the resolution in reaction to a recent ruling of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office, which in the so-called “broccoli/tomato case” first had rejected the patentability of essentially biological processes (like e.g. classical crossing and selection) but later ruled that products derived from such processes could nevertheless still be patented. In the resolution, they express their concern with this ruling and call upon the Commission to urgently “…ensure legal clarity regarding the prohibition of the patentability of products obtained from essentially biological processes and that breeding with biological material falling under the scope of a patent is permitted.” Garlich Von Essen, secretary general of the European Seed Association (ESA), welcomed the Parliament’s broad support for the resolution. “All major political groups have supported this call and this truly sends a very strong signal to the Commission,” says Von Essen. “We have always argued that patents must be restricted to true biotechnological inventions as it was intended by the legislators in 1998. If classical breeding processes are not patentable, their resulting products should not be either.”


The European Commission has withdrawn the authorisation of four GMOs for food or feed uses. The four GMOs  are MON863 maize, MON863xMON810xNK603 maize, MON863xMON810 maize and MON863xNK603 maize. These GMOs, all of which belong to agriculture company Monsanto, have not been cultivated worldwide since 2011, and their commercial phase-out is completed, therefore the company has asked for their withdrawal.



SGS has received accreditation from Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply for the company’s brand new, state-of-the-art, seed quarantine facility. Located in Piracicaba, Sao Paulo it supports the import of seeds for breeding and R&D trials for all major crops in Brazil. SGS now offers independent and accurate phytosanitary analysis of seeds imported for research and development programs into Brazil. This service is tailored for breeding companies to support and speed up seed batch release. With extensive capabilities, and the latest equipment, this facility enables fast and efficient turnaround times for clients and facilitates their access to the marketplace. The accreditation includes all major crops. Seed research and development and regulatory programmes are highly dependent on the importation of seed and propagation materials from different regions of the world. The challenge for the industry is to ensure that this transit is completed safely, and without introducing destructive pests and diseases. Failure to do so can have devastating natural and commercial consequences. SGS’s new facility is designed to eliminate this risk by detecting, identifying, containing and eliminating pests such as insects, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, viruses, weeds and other organisms.

“The accreditation of our seed quarantine facility is a landmark for agriculture in Brazil. It is also a credit to the hard work and determination of all those involved in making this project a success,” said Olivier Coppey, executive vice president of Agriculture, Food and Life, SGS. “This new facility will enable seed companies to import seeds safely, comply with Brazilian phytosanitary regulations, and contribute to the continuous development of Brazil’s Agriculture industry.”


The United Stated Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed its food and feed safety assessment of the second generation of J.R. Simplot’s Innate potatoes. The FDA concluded that the Russet Burbank Generation 2 potatoes are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters, from any other potato or potato-derived food or feed currently on the market. The second generation of Innate potatoes contains four benefits to potato growers, processors, and consumers: reduced bruising and black spots; reduced asparagine; resistance to late blight pathogens; and enhanced cold storage capability. These benefits were achieved by adapting genes from wild and cultivated potatoes. The safety consultation was voluntarily requested by Simplot and comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Agriculture also deregulated the same potatoes. These federal clearances involved a thorough technical review and a public comment period that drew the support of leading potato research universities in the U.S. and Europe.


The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service released the Global Agricultural Information Network Report on Taiwan’s genetic engineering products and regulations update. According to the report, after the amendment of the Feed Control act in February 2015, all GE products for animal feed must be registered with the Council of Agriculture (COA) for premarket approvals by February 4, 2017. GE events previously submitted to Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) and/or approved by the Administration are exempted from the COA review and requirements. TFDA’s current approval list is composed of 99 GE products including four canola, 12 cotton, 21 soybean, and 62 corn events. Six cotton and one GE sugar beet application have been granted approval, but are yet to be published.


The Zambian government has launched the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), whose core business is to regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products of GMOs in the country. The NBA is now fully functional in order to ensure that Zambia benefits from the safe application and use of modern biotechnology. “Safety will now be ensured in the development, use and handling of all gene modification technologies and products thereof because the NBA has put in place a system for notification and handling applications for permits and other key matters of biosafety,” says Minister of Higher Education, Michael Kaingu. “We are now on a clear path for the development of biotechnology. Our scientists are hard working to regulate and develop genetically modified crops, and we now have the capacity to regulate them.”

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