EFSA issues GM guidance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Genetically modified food, Genetically modified organism, European union, Gm

A panel of experts at the EU's food risk assessment agency have
completed a guidance document for GM ingredient suppliers.

Before any genetically modified organism or derived product can be placed on the EU market, it is required to pass an approval system in which its safety vis-à-vis humans, animals and the environment is thoroughly assessed.

At the request of the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, asked the European Food Safety Authority​ (EFSA) to put together a comprehensive guidance to applicants wishing to introduce GMOs or derived products to the EU market.

But for the moment a small number of giant biotech players - namely Monsanto and Syngenta - have come close to clearance of a GM product.

Facing the fury of anti-GM campaigners, in May this year the Commission pushed through approval of a GM sweetcorn, supplied by Swiss biotech firm Syngenta to enter the food chain. The first approval of a GM foodstuff since 1998 and marking the end of the de facto moratorium set up that year.

MON810, a biotech maize engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to the European corn borer, became the second approval, cleared within months of Syngenta's product.

But against the backdrop of a cynical GM-wary consumer, food makers in Europe are opting to skip GM ingredients in food formulations, conscious that such a move would be unlikely to lead to sales.

"Upholding its commitment to involve stakeholders in the risk assessment process, the guidance document has substantially benefited from comments received during a four-week period of public consultation as well as feedback received during a stakeholder consultation held in May 2004,"​ said the EFSA panel in a statement today.

The document covers the full risk assessment of GM plants and derived food and feed although risk management of GMOs (traceability, labelling, co-existence) are 'outside the remit of the GMO Panel'.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality, Policy

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