EFSA to up co-operation on GMO risk assessment

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Member states European union Genetically modified organism European food safety authority

Scientific experts from European Union member states yesterday met
with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to discuss ways to
strengthen scientific co-operation in the risk assessment of GMOs.

The meeting was set up to address concerns of member states about certain aspects of the risk assessment process for genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The two primary issues raised by the member states were the desire to be more involved in EFSAs assessment approach, as well as a request for feedback on how their comments are taken into account.

"We are very happy to meet with member state experts, share views and receive input on the GMO risk assessment process. EFSA is already co-operating with member states and since its establishment has developed specific tools and processes to maximize their input,"​ said Dr Herman Koter, EFSAs acting executive director.

At the meeting, EFSA explained how it takes member states views into consideration and discussed how this input could be addressed in a more visible way in its opinions. It also agreed to explain in more detail the scientific rationale behind its risk assessments.

"This was the first meeting of this level and scale with scientific experts from member states. This is the beginning of a process, we want to maximize our degree of co-operation as were always open to new comments and new ideas,"​ said EFSA spokesperson Alun Jones.

It was agreed that EFSA and member state representatives will meet on a regular basis in order to discuss specific themes such as the assessment of long-term effects of GMOs, environmental risk assessment and post market environmental monitoring of GMOs.

"This is all about science which constantly evolves, and we want to continue to be at the forefront. We want to make sure we talk to member states when they have comments, there is no doubt lots we can learn from them,"​ Jones told FoodNavigator, adding that EFSAs own risk assessment will nevertheless continue to be independent.

EFSA said it will now take stock of what was covered in the meeting, and will come back with a proposal on how to involve member states in the pre risk evaluation process.

A summary of the main outcome will be available on its website next Monday.

In February, EFSA held a meeting with environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to discuss the future development of genetically modified (GM) food within the EU.

At the summit, members of the EFSA GM panel presented a closer look at the risk assessment process of GMOs, focusing in particular on the scientific basis for evaluating food and feed safety, environmental impact and monitoring. The summit took place just days after a WTO ruling backed the US, Canada and Argentina in their efforts to open Europe up to GM food.

EFSA had said that the meeting illustrated its willingness to dialogue with interested parties on scientific matters in line with its policy on openness and transparency. The authority said it is committed to exchange and collaboration with all of its stakeholders, including those who may hold different views.

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