News

2018-09-17 |

Czech Republic to restrict use of glyphosate weedkiller

PRAGUE (AFP) -
The Czech Republic will limit the use of substances containing the controversial glyphosate weedkiller as of next year, the agriculture ministry said on Monday.

Glyphosate was introduced in 1974 by US agro-giant Monsanto under the brand-name Roundup. Earlier this year, Monsanto was wholly acquired by German behemoth Bayer.

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The Czech Republic will ban the blanket use of glyphosate as a weedkiller and as a drying agent to accelerate plant maturation, the ministry said in a statement.

"These substances will only be employed in cases when no other efficient method can be used," Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman said.

The ministry also said glyphosate use in the Czech Republic had dropped from 935,000 litres in 2013 to 750,000 litres last year.

The European Union decided last year to extend a licence for the herbicide by five years until 2022, with 18 of the bloc's 28 member states voting in favour, including the Czech Republic and Germany.

2018-09-17 |

US synbio firm Intrexon investigated for securities fraud

Share price falls for firm that owns GM mosquitoes, salmon, and apples

US synbio firm Intrexon, which owns GMO mosquitos, salmon and apples, is being investigated by lawyers for securities fraud.

The law firm Pomerantz LLP is investigating claims on behalf of investors of Intrexon Corporation. The investigation concerns whether Intrexon and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices.

On August 9, 2018, Intrexon announced that it would restate the unaudited interim consolidated financial statements included in the Company's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. Intrexon advised investors that the restatement was the result of incorrect application of certain aspects of Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. According to the company, "these errors have resulted in an overstatement of deferred revenue and accumulated deficit by approximately $67 million as of the adoption date."

2018-09-14 |

Bayer May Face Next Roundup Cancer Trial Sooner Than Planned

By Bloomberg -- Bayer AG isn’t counting on another trial over its Roundup herbicide until February, but an elderly couple who say exposure to the weed killer gave them cancer has other ideas.

Among some 8,700 people who blame their cancer on Bayer’s recently acquired Monsanto unit, the couple is asking to go to the front of the line to present their case to a jury in December “before they die.”

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“A number of trials are currently scheduled beginning in February 2019, but may be subject to change,” Bauman said during the call. “So the bottom line -- there is no further case that is going to be tried for the remainder of the year.”

What’s Next in Court for Bayer Crop-Chemical Claims: QuickTake

Monsanto is fighting to postpone the Pilliod couple’s trial in state court in Oakland, California, arguing that they haven’t met the requirements for expedited scheduling.

A spokesman for Monsanto didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the couple’s request for an expedited trial.

Separately, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco, who is handling all the Roundup cases in federal court, said he wants to schedule the first four trials for the spring of 2019.

The Oakland case is Pilliod v. Monsanto Company, RG17862702, California Superior Court for the County of Alameda. The federal case is In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2741, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

2018-09-14 |

UK to consider relaxing gene editing ban post Brexit

We take a science-based approach to GM regulation: UK to consider relaxing gene editing ban post Brexit

The UK has confirmed it will ‘consider’ relaxing the European Union’s controversial decision to include gene editing techniques within its regulatory framework that restricts the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food chain after Brexit.

2018-09-12 |

CRISPR/Cas9 Found to Cause Extensive Genetic Mutations in Cells

CRISPR/Cas9 is one of the newest genome editing tools. It can alter sections of DNA in cells by cutting at specific points and introducing changes at that location. Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute carried out a full systematic study in both mouse and human cells and discovered that CRISPR/Cas9 frequently caused extensive mutations, but at a greater distance from the target site.

Published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the study found that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can cause greater genetic damage in cells than was previously thought. The researchers found that many of the cells had large genetic rearrangements such as DNA deletions and insertions.

These results create safety implications for gene therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 in the future as the unexpected damage could lead to dangerous changes in some cells. In addition, some of these changes were too far away from the target site to be seen with standard genotyping methods. The researchers stressed that standard tests for detecting DNA changes miss finding this genetic damage, and that caution and specific testing will be required for any potential gene therapies.

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