Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | September 23, 2009

GMO risk assessment must be transparent

More work is needed on opening up GM assessment to integrate public concerns, attendees at a conference on the possible risks of genetically modified organisms heard this week.

The two-day conference, which was held on 14-15 September by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), aimed to share knowledge and best practices on risk assessment and provide a platform for EFSA to exchange views with the Member States, stakeholders and other participants.

The conference was opened by EFSA executive director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, who pointed out that “the field of GMO is characterized by a significant divergence in opinion among the various actors, low social acceptability and differing views on the potential benefits and beneficiaries of the technology.”

Geslain- Lanéelle reaffirmed EFSA’s role as a provider of scientific advice on GMOs, insisting that “EFSA is neither pro-GMO nor anti-GMO”. She added that it was important for EFSA to clarify its role in the risk assessment of GMOS. “We are here not only to inform but also to listen and learn,” she said.

EC director-general for Health and Consumers, DG Robert Madelin, called for transparency in the GMO risk assessment process. He said that the EU needs to continue to open up the assessment process to integrate public concerns and imbed it in a global context.

Central to the discussion was EFRA’s updated guidelines on risk assessment, which it claims will “strengthen and streamline GMO risk assessment processes, contributing to increase their efficiency and transparency.”
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The environmental impact of GMOs was a particular area of concern. Andreas Heissenberger of Austria’s Environment Agency said that Austria believes Europe’s environmental risk assessment is based on insufficient data and called for it to be improved.

FOE spokesperson Helen Holder also raised concerns over environmental risk assessment, expressing criticism of some of EFSA’s scientific opinions on GMOs.

Speaking for the biotechnology industry, Willy De Greef of Europabio, European Association for Bioindustries, asked for the existing experiences of the safe use of GM crops to be better taken into consideration in EU risk assessment and called for a clearer distinction between risk research and risk assessment.

EFSA said it will consider inputs from the EC, Member States and stakeholders when finalising its updated guidelines. It added that it is holding one of its regular meetings with NGOs on October 2 this year for further dialogue on a number of specific GMO issues.
source: foodnavigator



  1. I have been reading reports that animals fed with GMOs DIED … and that PIG FARMERS will not feed their pigs GMOs because they had reproductive problems when they ate GMOs.

    GMOs also endanger the bio-diversity of life on our planet.
    Pollen cannot be “contained” in a single field where GMOs are growing and therefore they contaminate other varieties.

    GMOs which allow a plant to co-exist with poisons (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers) ultimately mean that food will also contain these poisons … or worse yet (as I was just recently reading) the bacteria used to “splice” genes can live in humans and CREATE POISONS in a human system and also possibly squeeze out the vital and beneficial SYMBIOTIC ORGANISMS which live in our bodies and help us digest our foods as well as function to enhance our natural immune systems.

    I think it is also quite clear from the track record of GMO use thus far which shows that it is inferior to lower tech agriculture both in terms of quantity and nutritional quality.
    Seeds are natural and should not need to be purchased. Such need as occurs with UN-NATURAL GMOs is clearly UN-ECONOMICAL and UNSUSTAINABLE.
    Further, monocrops are risky because if for instance the weather is freaky that year, the WHOLE CROP could be lost … whereas if a mixture of varieties and species is planted, one can compensate for freaky weather.

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  3. The extent to which genetically engineered crops have infiltrated the global food supply is concerning, not because we should blindly oppose the bio-tech industry, but because there is insufficient evidence as to the long-term effects of these crops on the health of consumers and the natural environment. It’s impossible to thoroughly understand these effects without seeing how they impact subsequent generations of consumers, and their long-term affects on soil structures, neighbouring plant/animal species variety, the co-relation between insects and plant pollination, the effects of pollen drift, etc.

    The effect of the release of new plant species containing foreign genes into the natural environment is impossible to understand on a short-term basis. To attempt to do so can only be seen as irresponsible, especially when motivated by economics and the legalities of product patents.

    Sadly, confirming the absense of GE characteristics in a food product is now only possible through post production non-GMO verification, usually involving costly laboratory testing. The creation of yet another level of verification will add another prohibitive expense to small producers of specialty foods (eg. small organic producers). But unfortunately, methods such as organic production are not longer safeguards against GE, due to the increasing frequency of cross-contamination in the field or during processing/storage/transportation.

    Until we have a thorough understand of bio-tech crops the consuming public must insist on a moratorium on their commercial use.

    Alternatively, the mandatory labelling of GE ingredients will allow consumers to make the educated choice that thusfar, they have been denied.

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