Re-evaluation of genetically modified maize MON810: EFSA to invite stakeholders to meeting in September for scientific discussion on its opinion

EFSA has decided to review a report issued by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth on its scientific opinion concerning applications submitted for the renewal of the existing authorisation for genetically modified (GM) maize MON810 in the European Union.

EFSA is neither for nor against GM technology and its role is solely to provide an independent assessment of the safety of each GMO based on the most rigorous risk assessment standards and methodology – all according to European Union and internationally agreed guidelines.

EFSA recognises that there are different points of view on GM technology and is aware that the conclusions of the GMO Panel in its scientific opinion concerning the renewal of MON810 may not support the views of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

With reference to claims highlighted in the Greenpeace/Friends of the Earth report, EFSA would like to point out:

  • EFSA’s Panels identify in their opinions areas of scientific uncertainty. It is for risk managers to consider in their decision-making the opinions in their totality. The GMO Panel is confident that it has considered, with the support of its broad scientific network, relevant scientific studies, including those mentioned in the Greenpeace/Friends of the Earth report.
  • EFSA neither plays down nor ignores research and concluded that the likelihood of adverse effects of the cultivation of MON810 on non-target organisms, such as butterflies and other insects, is very low. As required, the Panel gave its scientific view on management options such as environmental monitoring.
  • All proteins either present in MON810 or found to be theoretically possible have been investigated and the Panel said they would not raise a safety concern.
  • EFSA did indeed review a 90-day study on MON810 and has now corrected reference to this research in the bibliography of its opinion.

EFSA’s GMO Panel is made up of leading independent scientists, expert in GM risk assessment, from across Europe, who are supported by additional external experts to cover the breadth of expertise required. In addition to standard consultation with all Member States and other competent authorities, EFSA held a special meeting with Member State experts on May 26 in order to exchange views on the environmental risk assessment of GM maize MON810 in the context of the renewal application for cultivation. The report of that meeting was published on EFSA’s website. As for all GM risk assessments, the evaluation of the renewal of MON810 was carried out according to the GMO Panel’s guidance document which had itself been subject to a public consultation.

EFSA will support the European Commission in reviewing all comments received in its ongoing public consultation on the scientific risk assessment of the renewal of MON810 and will invite stakeholders, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to a scientific discussion early in September to discuss and reply to their comments.