Failures of the EU Authorisation System for GMOs - Causes, Impacts and Solutions
UPDATE MARCH 2013
1. The EU’s authorisation system for Genetically Modified Organisms (GM) remains problematically slow:
- Fewer products have been authorised in 2012 compared to previous years.
- The time it takes to authorise a product has not improved.
- Legally prescribed timelines to put products to the vote have not been met.
- The EU is falling further behind the main exporting countries of key agricultural commodities, which are accelerating authorisation processes.
2. The slow-down of the EU GM authorisation system, in combination with global trade and agriculture trends, is increasing the barriers and raising the cost, of the trade flow of key commodities to the EU. A first observable consequence is that the trade of key commodities is diverted to other markets, such as Asia, where demand is increasing. More, acute trade disruptions can be expected in the future if the EU does not normalise the authorisation process of safe GM crop products and eliminate the backlog in approvals.
3. Six policy responses are required to avert trade disruptions and cost increases:
- Put products to the vote in a timely manner as required by law.
- Improve efficiency of GM authorization system to close the time gap with exporting countries.
- Adoption of workable approaches to stacked events and renewals of authorisations.
- Extension of the ‘technical solution’ for potential presence of not yet EU-authorised GMOs to food and seeds.
- A comprehensive policy to deal with Low Level Presence (Adventitious Presence) of GM products yet unauthorized in the EU.
- Strict adherence to science-based policy making.
4. Process efficiency recommendations were made in two external evaluation reports drafted for the European Commission. Few have been implemented. They should again be considered by the European Commission and Member States.