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Genetically Modified Organisms
Last updated: 25 September 2006    
Publication Date: 23 May 2006    

Genetically modified (GM) foods can only be used in the European Union if they have passed a rigorous safety assessment. The procedures for evaluation and authorisation of GM foods are laid down in Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 on GM food and feed, which came into force in April 2004 and in Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GMO’s, which came into force in March 2001.

What is EFSA’s role?

EFSA is Europe’s food safety ‘checkpoint’ and its role in the approval of GMOs is to provide scientific advice to European Union Institutions and Member States on the safety and risks for human and animal health and also for the environment. EFSA publishes its advice on its website and informs the requesting body of its conclusions. This information is taken into account by the requesting legislating body – European Commission and Member States – in line with the respective procedure when giving or refusing approval for use of GMO products.

EFSA also carries out ‘self-tasking’ activities. ‘Self-tasking’ occurs when EFSA, during the course of its regular work, identifies a particular issue which it believes requires further analysis and research. In the context of GMOs, an example of this is the creation of a self-tasking working group to study requirements for Post Market Environmental Monitoring in order to provide guidance for applicants and regulatory authorities.

Click HERE for more information on the GMO Risk Assessment Process at EFSA including:
  • How does a request for assessment of a GMO product reach EFSA?
  • How is a risk assessment carried out by the EFSA GMO Panel?
  • Who actually provides the data used in these assessments?
  • Does EFSA take into account the environmental impact of GMOs or its long term effects?
  • Does EFSA welcome feedback and opinions from stakeholders outside the organization?

Press releases/Statements

15/5/2006: Strengthening the scientific co-operation between EFSA and the EU Member States in the risk assessment of GMOs

17/2/2006: Risk assessment of GMOs: EFSA talks “science” with non-governmental organisations

20/10/2005: EFSA launches public consultation on post-market environmental monitoring of GM Plants

15/7/2005: EFSA assesses safety of GM maize hybrids: no adverse effects expected on human and animal health and on the environment

24/5/2005: EFSA further clarifies status of risk assessement concerning MON 863 and hybrid MON 863 X MON 810

20/5/2005: EFSA issues opinion on Genetically Modified Bt11 Maize

9/5/2005: EFSA follows up on Bt10 maize

9/5/2005: EFSA issues opinions on Genetically Modified 1507 Maize

26/4/2005: EFSA provides scientific support to the European Commission on issues related to the safety of Bt10 maize

30/11/2004: EFSA concludes guidance document for the risk assessment of genetically modified plants and derived food and feed
29/11/2004: EFSA response to report of Friends of the Earth Europe regarding risk assessments of the EFSA GMO Panel
29/10/2004: EFSA reaffirms safety of MON 863 maize

20/4/2004: EFSA provides scientific advice on the use of antibiotic resistance marker genes in genetically modified plants

20/4/2004: EFSA issues opinions on new GM maize:MON 863 maize considered as safe as conventional maize

7/4/2004: EFSA proposed guidance document for the risk assessment of genetically modified food and feed open for consultation
1/3/2004: EFSA advises on safety of GM oilseed rape GT 73

04/12/2003: EFSA issues opinions on new GM maize: NK 603 maize considered as safe as conventional maize

Scientific opinions

To see all EFSA’s opinions on GMO products, click here:

To see the EFSA register of questions where applications for GMO products are listed, click here

EFSA, Stakeholders and GMOs
Technical meeting with EFSA on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) held Parma, February 22 2006

EFSA Stakeholder homepage

Panel on genetically modified organisms

Useful links
European Commission
Codex Alimentarius
Guidance document of the GMO Panel for the risk assessment of genetically modified plants and derived food and feed
General Surveillance of unanticipated adverse effects of the GM Plant