UK House of Lords Second Report on the EU regulation of biotechnology in Agriculture - An important contribution to the discussion on effective EU regulation

25.01.1999

UK House of Lords Second Report on the EU regulation of biotechnology in Agriculture - An important contribution to the discussion on effective EU regulation

EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, welcomes the conclusions in the Second Report on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) -issued 21st January, 1999 by the House of Lords- as an important and constructive contribution to the effective regulation of biotechnology in Europe.

The conclusions and recommendations made by the House of Lords Committee, following wide consultation of a wide range of stakeholders from interest groups to government, and from consumer groups to industry, including many Member Companies of EuropaBio, are clear: the benefits of GMOs to agriculture, industry, consumers, and to the environment outweigh the risks. It is recognised that thorough risk assessment is an important part of regulation, which EuropaBio supports.

EuropaBio particularly agrees with the conclusion that the "regulatory process assessing Novel or Genetically Modified Foods is thorough and proper" and that the emphasis should not be on "genetically modified", but "on the new characteristics of any individual product". EuropaBio also agrees with the conclusion that "the absence of a testing and thresholds policy is a serious gap in current European legislation".

Over time, many have raised questions regarding possible risks (including outcrossing) of the technology when applied to arable crops. While not dismissing such questions, EuropaBio supports the conclusion in the report that "risks involved in genetic modification can be controlled if a strict risk management process is in place" and that modified plants and their management schedules should be compared with the use of a similar non-modified crop and best agricultural practice". EuropaBio believes that ultimately, this depends on a coherent and rigorous, science-based regulatory process.

The progress of Modern Biotechnology in Europe remains clouded, in many instances due to unpredictability in the current regulatory system and due to delays in the processes themselves. The Lords' clear call for better regulatory management and transparency is welcome indeed.

The present Report from the House of Lords is an important contribution to the debate, however EuropaBio recognises that action depends on decisions which will be taken at European level.

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