Ten points for a better risk assessment of genetically engineered plants

There is an urgent need to adopt a more comprehensive system for environmental risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. The system has to be based on reliable mandatory and empirical investigations that explore the technical qualities and risks of genetically engineered plants. On 29 September 2010 Testbiotech will meet the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and other stakeholders to discuss about new guidance notes. The following ten points have been identified as crucial for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants by Testbiotech:

  • generate a broad range of non biased data and drop the concept of substantial equivalence
  • develop a coherent step by step procedure that includes a set of mandatory investigations before and during experimental field trials
  • make it compulsory for applicants to reveal all existing studies and data
  • include all levels of the food web, do not rely on a tiered approach, make it compulsory for applicants to present data from different receiving environments
  • take into account accumulated, combinatorial and delayed effects
  • treat stacked events as new products that need independent assessment
  • request feeding studies over the lifetime of certain animal species including the following generations
  • develop an integrated approach for risk analysis including criteria for ethical, socio economic issues
  • define some cut off criteria for the rejection of market applications such as invasiveness and persistence
  • establish comprehensive monitoring