Step in the Right Direction for GMO Legislation

EU - Two independent reports evaluating the European Union's legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) conclude that there is broad support for the legislation's objectives and show that recent legislative Commission initiatives are heading in the right direction.
calendar icon 1 November 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The documents also note that some adjustments are necessary if the EU is to meet the objectives of the legislation -the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market- and to ensure that the legislation is properly implemented.

"These reports confirm that the problems of implementation of the GMO legislation do not stem from its design or its objectives, which remain relevant, but rather from the way these sensitive issues are handled at a political level", Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli said.

"This is why targeted solutions, such as our GMO cultivation proposal, are so important since this particular proposal addresses a very specific political need, whilst maintaining the overall rigorous EU authorisation system.

"The reports indicate that better implementation of the GMO legislation and carefully designed measures addressing certain issues are the best way forward. It is reassuring to see that many of the recommendations of the reports, which were compiled between 2009 and 2010, have already been addressed over the past year."

The two reports register broad support, from stakeholders and competent authorities alike, for the main objectives of the legislation, such as the protection of health and the environment and the creation of an internal market, as these objectives are consistent with the needs of society. Nevertheless, there's room for further improvement, according to the reports.

For instance, the reports note that the authorisation system could be more efficient, GMO cultivation would benefit from more flexibility and the risk assessment process from further harmonisation. Good news is that only limited changes to address specific issues are sufficient rather than an overall change to the system.

The future

In addition, the Commission will propose in the coming weeks more precise requirements for the submission of authorisation applications for imported products for food and feed use.

It is also revising the guidelines on environmental risk assessment to make them more detailed and precise and is already discussing them with Member States and stakeholders. The final document will have legal status and be endorsed by Member States. This is an important step towards a better implementation of the strict environmental risk assessment requirements of the GMO legislation.

Another priority aspect is the reinforcement of the monitoring of environmental effects by companies and by Member States. EFSA and Member States' experts are closely collaborating with the Commission to have more detailed guidelines.

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