What is the approval process for GM crops, food and feed in the EU?

  1. Risk assessment is done on a case-by-case and step-by-step basis.
  2. When the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has completed the environmental, human and animal health safety assessment, its recommendation, if positive, forms the basis of a Draft Decision for approval by the European Commission. 
  3. Post-release monitoring, traceability and labelling: Monitoring plans need to be approved prior to marketing the product. Traceability is ensured by labelling and administrative records throughout the food chain. 
  4. Public information: Throughout the approval process, information is provided to the public.
  5. Subsidiarity: Even in the European single market, responsibility for some issues may be passed back to Member States, such as the co-existence of GM, non-GM and organic crops. 
  6. Compliance with international trade rules: EU legislation is in line with the international trade requirements of WTO (it is clear, transparent and non discriminatory) and with the trans-boundary movement rules of the UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. However, the political nature of the approval process in practice has led to WTO disputes because of trade disruption.