Czech/SlovakiaCzech RepublicSlovakia

US Agri-Giant Awaits First TimeClearance for GM Seeds in Europe


Prague - The Czech Ministry of Environment has postponed a decision on the application by US agriculture giant Monsanto Corp. for clearance for so-called 'Bt Maize' for commercial production until an expert commission gives its opinion. Monsanto, the world's largest supplier of GM seeds, is the first company to ask Czech authorities to approve commercial production of GM seeds - no European country has done this so far. The Bt Maize strain has the advantage of being toxic to the European corn borer, a common pest of the maize crop.
Currently Monsanto only grows this strain of maize experimentally in the Czech Republic at Branisovice, in South Moravia. The Czech Minister for the Environment Libor Ambrozek was originally expected to rule on the Monsanto application by the end of June but handed over the documents to the expert panel in July (see also page 36). According to government sources it is uncertain how long the commission could take to report back and when a final decision could be expected.
In the Czech Republic all food products containing GMOs must, according to new case-law since January 1, 2002, be cleared by the Ministry of Health. The products themselves must be labelled as “genetically modified” or containing “genetically-modified organisms”. More food made from genetically modified crops could be on the way following the July 2 decision of the European Parliament to drop its five-year ban on the introduction of new biotech products on the European Union (EU) market and allow GM foods into the EU as long as they are clearly labelled.
The Bt-toxin, a protein which is naturally expressed in the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, has the ability to destroy the intestinal wall of different varmints without harmfull side-effects for beneficial organisms. In humans most isoforms of Bt-toxin are non-toxic and digested very early in the gastro-intestinal tract. Only one Bt-toxin variant, called Cry9c, is suspected to cause allergic reactions. Back in September 2000 Cry9c-containing StarLinkTM corn by former Aventis CropScience caused a food scandal when it was found in the human food supply despite having been approved for animal feed use only.
Monsanto began field trials in the Czech Republic in August 2001 using herbizide resitant Roundup Ready wheat. While according to Czech media reports public support for the new technology was more widespread in the Czech Republic at that time than in other European countries, the Monsanto trial had aggravated the discussion. Especially Greenpeace objected to the trials. The environmentalists argued that Monsanto's wheat was likely to contaminate regular grown crops threatening the country's wheat export.

Czech/SlovakiaCzech RepublicSlovakia


The Czech government has beefed up its investments in biotech with the help of EU structural funds. In February, the country’s Education Minister Josef Dobes gave the go-ahead for the Biocev centre in Vestec near Prague. Although...

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Brno – Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has officially inaugurated the first of six European Technology Institutes slated to be launched in the Czech Republic with help from European FEDER funds. Although construction of the €200m...

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Prague – Czech drug developer VUAB Pharma a.s. has joined CzechBio. The company, which has its headquarters in Roztoky near Prague, became the 35th member of the Czech biotechnology industry association in September. VUAB...

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Praque – A team of researchers headed by Dr. Valdimir Kral, Director of Chemical Development at Sanofi-Aventis’ Czech research unit Zentiva Development sro, has presented a new targeted drug delivery system that couples combined...

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Brno – Plans for building a Central European Insitute of Technology (CEITEC) in Brno look set to take a big step closer to becoming reality. In mid-May, CEITEC representatives announced that EU financing for the EUR260m...

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Plzen – Czech antibody discovery and development specialist AbCheck s.r.o. has signed its first contract with a big pharma company. In October, the yearling Czech spin-off from German antibody drug developer Affimed GmbH...

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Prague – CzechInvest has called on Czech high-tech companies in the field of ICT, bio­technology, clean technology and micro­electronics to apply for the Czech Technology Accelerator programme. Under the third call, which was...

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Prague – Czech researchers from Charles University in Prague have discovered a molecular biomarker that helps to predict toxicity and a higher risk for adverse effects in children with juvenile arthritis that are treated with...

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Prague – Czech biotech company Lenti­Kats AS has begun worldwide commercialisation of a patented, cost-effective encapsulation technology for use in the food and bio­pharmaceuticals industry. The company has discovered a way to...

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Sofia – Bulgaria’s parliament has approved a law that will in effect ban any cultivation of GMO crops in the country. “There will be no field on the country’s territory where GMOs can be cultivated,” said Kostadin Yazov from the...

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