New GM testing rules for EU

April 2013
Photo by Carnotdigital (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
In February 2013, new EU regulations for the risk assessment of GM food and feed were voted into law. These represent a major shift in thinking.

Notably:
  • They require a 90-day feeding trial.
  • The results of this feeding trial must satisfy defined statistical criteria.
  • Proof that a GM material is equivalent to the non-GM parent variety apart from the introduced trait must be provided by industry (GM Watch has been told that current GMOs on the market or in the pipeline would be unlikely to pass this test).


As you might expect, the new regulations are full of loopholes. In particular, the elastic concept of 'comparative assessment' (a.k.a. 'substantial equivalence') has been retained, and a derogation clause allows industry to omit certain elements if it believes these are unnecessary. Also, the 93 GM applications already pending will not be considered under the new rules.

OUR COMMENT


The last loophole is, perhaps the most dangerous: a whole generation could be catastrophically diseased before the first newly obligatory feeding study or proof of equivalence of any GM food is even carried out.

In the wake of the first life-long feeding study whose findings didn't reassure in the slightest (see GM MAIZE NOT SAFE TO EAT - October 2012), the sudden insistence on 90-day feeding trials which have just been proven inadequate appears too little too late. Could it be a pre-emptive move to temper the political problems still to emerge from Prof. Séralini's unique experiment?

In view of the EFSA's latest initiative on transparency in its risk assessments (see EFSA TRYING TO GET TRANSPARENT? - April 2013), we can only hope that the most blatant use of the loopholes will be blocked by the new onlookers.

The important thing to ask for now (as GM-free Scotland has been doing since the 1990s) is the development of appropriate, state-of-the-art tests to detect the early warning signs of health effects. This may well be possible during a 90-day feeding trial. Now that we have Séralini's data on what might go wrong in the long term, this should tell us what chemical markers, tissues, organs and cell bodies we need to focus on.

SOURCES:
  • New GMO Regulation passed by unaccountable committee, GM Watch, 27.02.13
  • GMOs: European governments play the pyromaniac fireman!, Press release from UNAF, Confederation Paysanne, Friends of the Earth France, FNAB, France Nature Environment, Greenpeace, 27.02.13, (translation from the French by GM Watch)
  • Ed Bray, Member states back 90-day GM feed trials, Europolitics, Belgium, 4.03.13

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