Assessment of the 2020 post‐market environmental monitoring report on the cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 in the EU
Following a request from the European Commission; the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed the 2020 post‐market environmental monitoring (PMEM) report on the cultivation of Cry1Ab‐expressing maize event MON 810. Like previous years, there was full compliance with refuge requirement in Portugal and partial compliance with refuge requirements by Spanish farmers growing MON 810 varieties. European and Mediterranean corn borer populations collected from north‐eastern Spain during the 2020 maize growing season and tested for Cry1Ab susceptibility show no symptoms of resistance to maize MON 810. The assessment of farmer questionnaires and relevant scientific publications does not indicate any unanticipated adverse effects on human and animal health or the environment arising from the cultivation of maize MON 810. Overall, EFSA concludes that the evidence reported in the 2020 PMEM report does not invalidate previous EFSA evaluations on the safety of maize MON 810. However, as in previous years, EFSA identifies shortcomings on resistance monitoring that need revision in future reports. In particular, the monitoring plan, as implemented in 2020, is not sufficiently sensitive to detect the recommended 3% resistance allele frequency. Consequently, EFSA strongly recommends the consent holder to achieve full compliance with refuge obligations in areas where adoption of maize MON 810 is high and increase the sensitivity of the monitoring plan by performing periodic F2‐screens on corn borer populations from north‐eastern Spain. EFSA recommends revising the farmer questionnaires when new characteristics of the receiving environment emerge which are relevant for the environmental risk assessment of MON 810 such as the emergence of teosinte. EFSA encourages the Competent authorities of concerned EU Member States, the consent holder and environmental networks to engage in a dialogue to develop a framework on how to best identify and report unexpected adverse effects from the cultivation of Bt maize varieties.