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The use of GMOs: A Critique, from the EFSA

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A discussion on the use of GMOs Contents Terms of reference.............................................................................................................ii Summary...........................................................................................................................iii About the EFSA................................................................................................................iv Chapter 1: Information presented at the Plenary session: The EFSA on GMOs: a critical analysis...........................................................................5 The potential problems of the EFSAs role within the EU regulatory framework..........5 The precautionary Principle and its strengths and weaknesses......................................5 GMO Authorisation Process' problems and strengths.......................................................6 Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, genetically modified food and feed...........................6 Directive 2001/18/EC , deliberate release into the environment of GMO....................8 Chapter 2: Issues and questions raised: The risk assessment and monitoring................................................................................10 Labelling and Traceability................................................................................................11 Accidental release............................................................................................................12 Chapter3: Recommendations and conclusion: Recommendations............................................................................................................13 Self tasking activities.......................................................................................................13 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................14 Bibliography.....................................................................................................................15 Further reading.................................................................................................................16 Terms of Reference This is a follow up paper as a result of a committee plenary session held on 16th November 2007. Its objectives were to re-examine the current regulation of genetically modified organisms in relation to agricultural products within the European Union. The sessions remit included: * The accidental release of GMO's into the environment * The deliberate release of GMO's into the environment * The import and export of GMO's * The labelling of food and agricultural products * International obligations under multilateral treaties * The pre existing guidelines or approaches adopted by other international organisations involved in regulating agriculture plants and food and, * The precautionary principle This paper will discuss the potential problems within the EU's GMO regulatory process. It will identify weaknesses and strengths, outline the approach to build on the strengths, and examine ways to address the potential problems. It will focus on three pieces of legislation including the deliberate release of GMO, GMO food and feed, and GMO labelling. Summary Food is a necessity for life and its safety is incremental in today's society. More and more our food is being grown in ever increasingly exotic places and in exotic ways. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) intends to keep all of our food safe for consumption. ...read more.

Middle

(Article 4.1). Regulation 1829/2003 sets out a set of labelling requirements in article 13. If the GM food or feed is different than its conventional counterpart as regards its nutritional value, composition, intended use or has implications for certain sections of the population,or where it could raise concerns ethically or religiously, the authorisation may come with a requirement that further information is provided. The EFSA would argue for more rigorous labelling legislation, ( see section ) Directive 2001/18/EC , deliberate release into the environment of GMO. Under this directive the authorisation procedure is a little different, with the EFSA opinion only seeked if there are objections and they are maintained throughout the first stages of application. The MS are involved in the early stages of risk assessment and the EFSA only becomes involved if scientific divergences cannot be resolved amongst the MS. The application is first given to the member state where the GMO shall be place on the market and they carry out a risk assessment. It is then sent to the EC for forwarding to all MS, "community period", for any input. If there are are objections and they cannot be resolved amongst member states, only then is the EFSA asked to compile an opinion focusing on the point of contention between member states. And again based on The EFSAs opinion the EU and the MS take a decision on the application. The process for regulation 1829/2003 is more transparent, as public consultation has a bigger more effective role. If the EFSA are not involved from the beginning, there should be public consultation periods before the risk assessment is given to the EC an drawn up in an opinion as is with the EFSA. It would give for a more certain process if the EFSA was involved from the beginning. (Adapted from The EFSA GMO Fact sheet) Directive 2001/18/EC is a result of improvements on directive 90/220/EEC, directives and regulations are continually being scrutinised and improved. ...read more.

Conclusion

The current voluntary system could be tightened by agreements being drawn up for set amounts of time and democratically elected zones from local authorities. One successful situation is the North Essex Seed Zone (NESZ), but this isn't entirely voluntary. The complexities of land ownership and fragmented land hinders any completely voluntary scheme. Therefore it is necessary that strong legal frameworks are put in place to prevent GM contamination, and to ensure that liability is clear if contamination does occur. The EU Commission fully support any adaptation of GM free buffer zones. These buffer zones should coincide with the lifting of involuntary GMO free zones as it conflicts with human rights issues. Self-Tasking Activities Besides product-specific risk assessments, the EFSA also identify particular areas which they feel necessary to conduct further research so it initiates its own work "self-tasking activities" in order to stay at the cutting edge of scientific developments and to further our understanding of GMO. The EFSA are carrying out studies on; * Statistics * Allergenicity assessments * The use of animal feeding trials * Post-market environmental monitoring of GMOs and * Plants used as a production platform for non-food/feed products. Conclusion As a result of the 16th of December session there has been a marked effort in re-assessing the GMO regulations within Europe. Labelling was one of the main contentious issues and the EFSA see big policy changes over the coming years of regulation 1830/2001, but also recognise that it could possibly be one of the biggest changes seen in the GMO industry, and a tough area to change. So much of our meat and dairy products have come in contact with GMOs that it will have to be a phasing out process rather than a blanket labelling regulation. There needs to be constant monitoring and assessment of GMOs, to advance our understanding of GMO the long term and the effect, if any, it has on the human physiology. As our understanding grows so will the technology that accompanies GMOs and this will be the gateway to GMO safety and its ability to curb global hunger. ...read more.

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