Risk assessments & scientific promotion of co-existence

A5 - Saturday 14:30 - 16:30


This workshop offers critical analysis of existing GMO risk assessment  as presently conducted by GMO companies and checked (some say “rubber stamped”) in an increasingly centralised procedure by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA. How can the full scope of scientific analysis and questions be incorporated in this process? What is the experience regarding public participation and submission of critical and independent scientific evidence in this process? What about the involvement of professional experts such as farmers and processors? How can regions and NGOs contribute to this process? While the EFSA so far has given a positive risk assessment to all GMO applications submitted to them, national authorities have questioned these decisions. Questions also arise regarding the narrow selection of competence and potential conflicts of interest of the members of EFSAs scientific panel on GMOs. The composition of this panel is presently being reviewed and will be renewed in April 2006. While there is a tightly-knit network of scientists promoting the introduction of GMOs into European agriculture, which is financially well funded  by EU research programmes, critical scientists, authorities and professionals still lack such co-operation and funding.


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Key participants and speakers:

Broder Breckling (University of Bremen - Zentrum für Umweltforschung und Umwelttechnologie, Germany)
Statement to the draft paper on General Surveillance of the Impact of GM plants

Adrian Bebb (Friends of the Earth Europe)
GMO-free Europe - EFSA

Christoph Then (Greenpeace, Germany)
EU Authorisation for GMOs: some experiences from 2005

Angelika Hilbeck (ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland)

Sue Mayer (GeneWatch, UK)
Evaluating GM crops and foods in the UK

Matteo Lener (Consiglio dei Diritti Genetici, Genetics Rights Council - Italy)
Public participation on the decision making process for GMOs



Background Documents

GMO: Impossible coexistence
Seven reasons why, in the current state of research, as well fundamental as applied, nothing makes it possible to authorize an unspecified coexistence between the tests of GM crops in open medium and the conventional cultures. (French/English)

Federal Ministry of Health and Women Austria (2004)
Risk Assessment of GMO products in the European Union, A 131page long critical review of the toxicity assessment, allergenicity assessment and substantial equivalence in practice and proposals for improvement and standardisation

Austrian Ministry of Health and Women Austria (2004)
Assessment of Human Health Effects of GMO
In November 2003, scientists were invited to analyse the current shortcomings in the risk assessment of GMOs and to make recommendations for improvement.

UK (2003/04)
UK GM Science Review
An open review of the science relevant to GM crops and food based on interests and concerns of the public.

Werner Müller (2003)
Concepts for Coexistence
In this 55 page long study, Werner Müller focuses on the level of biological science (such as questions of outcrossing distances and the dispersal of transgenic seed) and that of quality assurance.

GMCC (November 2003)
First European Conference on Co-existence of Genetically Modified Crops with Conventional and Organic Crops
The website contains the scientific programme and abstracts as well as the 228 page long Proceedings

Friends of the Earth Europe (November 2004)
Throwing caution to the wind
A 20-page review of the European Food Safety Authority and its work on genetically modified foods and crops

Greenpeace (April 2004)
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): Failing Consumers and the Environment
The GMO panel of EFSA was set up to contribute to an improved risk assessment of GM crops in the EU, but analysis of assessments made so far by EFSA shows that it has not contributed to a higher level of consumer and environmental protection from GM crops and foodstuffs.

Greenpeace (2005)
Notification for the cultivation of Bt11 maize in the EU
No serious investigation was conducted on the toxicity of the impact of the GM maize Bt11 on the environment, such as detrimental effects on useful or protected insect species but this as well as scientific results on possible negative environmental consequences of this GM maize were widely ignored by EFSA when it gave it positive opinion about cultivation of Bt11 maize.