The EU does not implement the regulations on genetically modified organisms as it was intended from the beginning. Instead of protecting the environment and human health the interpretation of the framework hinders a sustainable future crop production.
Legislators presented the early draft legislative texts on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) three decades ago. The purpose of the regulatory framework was to be cautious about new technologies and to ensure that the environment and human health are not exposed to risks. A lot has happened since then. Techniques used by scientists to combine DNA molecules and regulate different crop traits have become more advanced and the GM crops that have so far become food and animal feed have proven to be as safe to eat as crops bred by conventional methods such as cross breeding. The regulations have instead become an obstacle to applications that promote health and the environment.
– The progress within biotechnology has been outstanding, but the legislation surrounding the technologies is basically standing still. Those who make decisions about GMOs in the EU have neither developed nor interpreted the GMO regulations as it was originally intended, says Dennis Eriksson who is studying GMO legislation in the EU, in the Mistra Biotech research programme at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
In a recently published opinion in the scientific journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Dennis Eriksson lists four details which he thinks policy makers in the EU need to consider in their discussions on GMOs.
- Focus on the organisms and products, instead of the technology.
- Update and adapt the directives regularly, in line with the technological progress in the field of biology.
- Acknowledge that the hitherto cultivated genetically modified crops and products, during many years of cultivation and use, have not shown any health risks.
- Take into account all the potential benefits of different genetically modified organisms and products. That is, benefits for agriculture, the environment and the economy.
The EU needs to recover the original intentions of the GMO legislation, it is absolutely necessary, says Dennis Eriksson.
– We need an updated legislation, and an interpretation of the same, which acknowledge the traits and benefits of the crops. It is obvious in documents from the late 1980s that that was the original idea on how the regulatory framework should work.
Read the full article: “Recovering the original intentions of risk assessment and management of genetically modified organisms in the European Union”
Dennis Eriksson, researcher at the Department of Plant Breeding, SLU +46 (0)40-41 54 52, firstname.lastname@example.org