Europe ‘systematically ignored’ risks of GM crops approved for import? Food safety officials, anti-GMO groups battle over EU’s biotech crop rules

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Credit: Sarantis Michalopoulos
Credit: Sarantis Michalopoulos

Testbiotech has published a new report providing evidence that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is intentionally keeping significant risks related to genetically engineered (GE) plants ‘in the dark’. While EFSA is aware that the data compiled by industry are insufficient to demonstrate the safety of the plants, it has nevertheless failed to take action to solve the problems. On the contrary, the authority has for years defended assumptions even if they are in contradiction to the facts. 

Testbiotech is accusing EFSA of a systematic failure to request sufficiently reliable data from industry. These problems concern, for example, field trials with genetically engineered herbicide-resistant plants that are sprayed with much lower rates of herbicide applications compared to current agricultural practice. Furthermore, the regions in which the field trials are carried out do not represent the bioclimatic conditions under which the GE plants are to be cultivated.

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In conclusion, evidence has been provided to show that the genetic engineering of food plants has layers of complexity that go far beyond what can be assessed by current standards of risk assessment. The safety of the plants is claimed on basis of approval processes that only consider risks that are easiest to assess.

Editor’s note: Although most experts agree that approved biotech crops are safe for human consumption, the GLP posted this article to foster open dialogue. For a different perspective, read: European Food Safety Authority rebuffs activist criticism of its safety assessment of insect and herbicide resistant GMO crops

Related article:  EU Food safety officials reject activist group Testbiotech's challenge of glyphosate-tolerant GMO soy approval

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