GMO applications of the white and red biotechnology* (also called industrial and medical biotechnology) have large realised benefits and have received support from users and appear to be widely accepted by the general public. However, the situation is different for products of the so called green biotechnology. This technology is still controversial on a number of levels. The public in different European countries has expressed concerns in various forms and overarching public perception has tended to be largely negative towards GM crops.
On the other hand, some studies also indicate reasons for concern under certain circumstances and for individual products (e.g., crop failures, price increases, seed market monopolisation and farmers’ dependency on a few technology providers, negative impacts on non-target organisms, and resistance development in target pest populations).
The consideration of risks and benefits depends also on specific values, expectations and concerns of citizens and civil society organisations which so far have possibly not been sufficiently addressed. There are obviously knowledge gaps which may hamper a widely accepted evaluation of risks and benefits of existing GM products. Additionally, new GM applications are under development and could reach the European market in the foreseeable future. This also demands a timely conception of aligned research programmes that support a purposeful and adequate risk and benefit analysis.
The ultimate goal of the project is preparing the implementation of an EU wide research network (GMO ERA-Net) that will address the issues described above through a comprehensive and aligned research agenda and transnational joint calls for interdisciplinary research.
Status quo Reports on GMO Impact Assessment
- European Commission, 2010: A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001-2010)
- German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, 2007: Biological and Ecological Evaluation towards Long-term Effects (BEETLE)
- European Commission, Joint Research Centre (2008): Scientific and technical contribution to the development of an overall health strategy in the area of GMOs
- European Commission, 2011: Report on socio-economic implications of GMO cultivation on the basis of Member States contributions
- Kaphengst, T. et al., 2011: Assessment of the economic performance of GM crops worldwide. Report to the European Commission.
- Swiss National Research Programme NRP59, 2012: Benefits and Risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants