Scientific opinion on the assessment of potential impacts of genetically modified plants on non-target organisms

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published scientific opinions on environmental risk assessments of GMO plants and the assessment of potential impacts of GM plants on non-target organisms. The documents will serve as basis for discussions between the EU Commission, member States and stakeholders on the further development and updating of environmental guidance with regard to GMOs. Once adopted, this guidance will serve as primary tool for applicants when submitting applications for GM authorization and for risk assessments by member States and EFSA. The opinion on GMO risk assessment identifies specific areas of concern that should be addressed when assessing risks of GM plants: persistence and invasiveness of the GM plant, or its compatible relatives, including plant-to-plant gene transfer; plant-to-micro-organism gene transfer; interaction of the GM plant with target organisms; interaction of the GM plant with non-target organisms, including criteria for selection of appropriate species and relevant functional groups for risk assessment; impact of the specific cultivation, management and harvesting techniques; including consideration of the production systems and the receiving environments; effects on biogeochemical processes; and effects on human and animal health. The opinion on non-target organisms further describes the scientific rationale and data requirements needed for complete and comprehensive environmental risk assessment for non-target organisms, including examples of methodologies and stepwise approaches.