EFSA restates its on-going strategy and explains new initiatives for co-operation with Member States in GMO risk assessment

On the eve of the discussion on GMOs at the EU Environment Council on 27 June, EFSA has today informed the EU Environment Council in an open letter about its on-going and future plans for co-operation with Member States in GMO risk assessment. EFSA would like to reaffirm its standing commitment to working with Member States, not only in maximizing existing and establishing future co-operation but also in developing scientific approaches together with Member States on GMO risk assessment. Its activities have been further developed following EFSA’s GMO Forum meeting[1] on 15 May held to discuss ways of strengthening scientific co-operation with Member States on GMO risk assessment.

EFSA’s strategy for co-operation with Member States contains three main elements:

Enhancing existing involvement [2] of Member States in GMO risk assessments

Building  on EFSA’s current active collaboration with Member States, EFSA is taking further action to:

  • enhance feedback to Member States indicating more clearly how comments have been incorporated in Opinions and providing reasoned argumentation when specific comments are not taken on board;
  • organise consultation meetings with Member States when an issue is of substantial scientific concern;
  • discuss increased participation of national authorities in carrying out environmental risk assessments[3].

Co-operation with Member States in the further development of scientific approaches to risk assessment, such as long-term effects

EFSA’s GMO Panel will involve Member States more directly in further developing its approach to assess long-term effects related to toxicology, allergenicity and environmental impact. The Panel will:

  • meet national scientific representatives to discuss an on-going EFSA project on animal feeding trials,
  • invite Member State scientific experts to attend a scientific colloquium on the environmental risk assessment of GMOs early in 2007.

Active dialogue with Member States on EFSA’s GMO risk assessment processes and practices[4]

Following positive feedback from its GMO Forum meeting, EFSA will:

  • repeat the GMO Forum meeting every one or two years;
  • continue holding ad hoc one-to-one consultations with Member State scientific assessment experts to discuss country specific issues where appropriate;
  • engage its Member State Advisory Forum[5] more closely in its GMO work, asking its members to help in co-ordinating national input on GMO risk assessment.

In forwarding the strategy to the EU Environment Council, Dr. Herman Koëter, EFSA’s Acting Executive Director said:

“EFSA hopes that Member States will be eager to be more closely involved in EFSA’s many on-going and future planned activities in GMO risk assessment. We have brought together an overview of all EFSA GMO activities and outlined some new initiatives aimed at further developing and enhancing our co-operation. EFSA has worked very hard up till now on involving Member States in its GMO risk assessment work and will continue to work even harder with Member States on this co-operation.”

[2] This includes ongoing work with Member States in assessing GMO dossiers by: communicating weekly with Member State experts on GMO assessments through a dedicated extranet; considering all scientific comments received from Member States on GMO dossiers and holding bilateral meetings with Member State experts on country specific issues.
[3] When a GMO application for cultivation is notified under Regulation 1829/2003, a Member State is required to carry out the environmental risk assessment (ERA). Only a few Member States have so far agreed to carry out an ERA and EFSA will look at how it can encourage Member State participation.
[4] EFSA processes and procedures are firmly based on EU legislation. GMO Panel - Genetically modified organisms .
[5] Advisory Forum .

Media contacts