GMO Food & Feed Safety
The number of GM crops, and hence GMO derived products, is steadily increasing. Opinion as to their safety is still divided. Concerns are both to human health and to the environment.
To ensure that GM products on the EU market are safe and can be tracked, as well as to provide the European customer with an informed choice of consumer products, the European Commission has established a strict legal framework for their authorisation and traceability. European legislation involves a step by step and a case by case safety assessment of the highest possible standard before a GMO or a GM derived product can be placed on the market. Furthermore, it ensures clear labelling and traceability.
In order to implement the GMO legislation, it is important to have adequate means of detecting GMOs in shipments of imported food, feed and seeds and in the final products available on the European market. The detection of GMOs requires standardised methods that are specifically tailored for each GMO.
The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) hosts the European Union Reference Laboratory for GM Food and Feed (EURL-GMFF) who has as major task to validate methods of GMO detection. Hence, it is part of the European authorisation procedure. The validated methods of the EURL-GMFF are routinely used by the national reference laboratories in the EU Member States when monitoring the EU market.
Sometimes GMOs are detected that are not authorised within the EU. In such cases, the European Commission may take emergency measures. As non-authorised GMOs arriving to the EU market are mostly detected by the national laboratories in EU Member States, the Institute supports the regulatory process through the verification of specific detection methods that are used.
In 2007, at the request of the European Parliament, the Institute conducted a study on possible health effects caused by GMOs. No adverse health effects from authorised GMO products could be demonstrated. It has to be stressed, however, that little is known about the potential long-term health effects of any GM food or of any other novel crop.