Environmental monitoring of GM crops

 29 Mar 2012 – On 29 March 2012 , the Commission organised a hearing on “Environmental monitoring of GM crops” in Brussels, the third of a series after the two on “GMO risk assessment and management” (March 2011) and “Socio-economic dimensions of GMO cultivation” (October 2011). The aim was to exchange views on GM crops monitoring in the EU and how to strengthen it through the existing environmental monitoring programs. Participants included European Parliament members, non-EU and EU national authorities, private sector stakeholders, NGOs, the scientific community andthe press.

(source: EC)

ENSSER was invited to give a talk in Session 1 “The potential use of existing programs for environmental monitoring of GM crops” to present its views on monitoring programs, replacing the statement of Greenpeace which could not attend the meeting. ENSSER and Greenpeace coordinated their contribution to provide critical thoughts to the audience. John Dalli as the Commissioner for Health and Consumers opened the hearing. A number of representatives from industry  and EU member state authorities presented a survey of various known views on the established GMO monitoring practice and some new nuances regarding the suitability and deficits of the current situation. The presentations provoked several critical questions and statements from the audience, challenging e.g. the suitability of existing environmental observation programmes designed for other purposes to indicate environmental changes caused by GMO, and the lacking of an adequate human health monitoring. Also the fact that in Poland GM maize is cultivated without a suitable monitoring or cultivation register in operation was brought up. The 10-minute talk given by Broder Breckling (University Vechta, Germany) emphasised among others the necessity to take into account targeted hypotheses not only for case specific monitoring but also for general surveillance. Long term and combinatory effects were previously not adequately addressed. Thus, the current situation can not be considered as proportional considering that GMO monitoring has to safeguard the health and environment of 500 million inhabitants of the European Union.