EFSA and NGOs exchange views on scientific approaches to the risk assessment of GMOs

In a meeting held yesterday in Parma with environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) discussed scientific and procedural issues related to the risk assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Following presentations given by representatives from both the Authority and the NGOs present, participants engaged in an open discussion. Although differing views and approaches were expressed, some of which are fundamental in principle, all agreed that the debate had certainly been worthwhile.

In his introduction Herman Koëter, EFSA’s Acting Director and Chair of the meeting, explained EFSA’s role as a fully independent body charged with the risk assessment of food and feed. He addressed fundamental issues such as the scientific approach and EFSA’s selection of experts, declarations of interest and confidentiality. Members of the EFSA GMO 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 NGO participants represented Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the European Environmental Bureau, GM Free Cymru and GeneWatch. In their presentations the NGOs expressed their views on GMOs focusing on issues like statistical approaches, the nature of data considered during a risk assessment and also shared their views on assessments already undertaken by EFSA.

After the meeting Herman Koëter said “I am very happy with the atmosphere in which the meeting took place. We could not expect to agree on all details but I very much welcomed the open and fair debate on scientific issues as regards GMOs. We will continue to exchange views and collaborate with all stakeholders to provide a basis for a better understanding of each other’s role, expectations and approach.”

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