Commission for more transparency on GMO decisions

The Commission has decided to bring more scientific consistency and transparency to the way EFSA approves and delivers its decisions on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The Commission decided on 12 April 2006 to introduce practical changes to the EFSA’s GMO approval process so that the scientific consistency and transparency of its decisions on GMOs will be improved. The Commission invites the EFSA, for example, to fully co-operate with member states national scientific bodies and to provide them with a detailed justification in case it rejects scientific objections raised by the national authorities. The Commission is also set to reserve itself the right to suspend the authorisation procedure and refer back the question if a member state raises “important new scientific questions”, which are not fully adressed by the EFSA opinion.

The environmental NGOs immediately welcomed the Commission's intentions and Greenpeace Europe wants EFSA to be immediately subject to mandatory guidelines on how to evaluate the risks of GMOs. It also calls for suspension of the current authorisation process and for re-asssessment of EFSA's previous opinions on GMOs.

EuropaBio welcomes most of the Commission's proposals for improvements, except the one which is to give the Commission the right to suspend the authorisation procedure and refer back the question if a member state raises new scientific questions not fully adressed by the EFSA opinion. "I find this point very confusing and wonder how the Commission will do this 'in the existing legal framework', as it says it will," said Simon Barber from EuropaBio. "If EFSA's scientific safety assessment process is politicised, it will become worthless," he continued.

The role of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) GMO authorisation procedure is to ensure that only GMOs which are safe for human and animal consumption and for release into the environment can be placed on the European market. Several EU member states, including Austria, the current holder of the rotating EU Presidency have, however, criticised EFSA of GMO bias and say it has approved GM products without proper research.

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