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Keywords:

  • agricultural biotechnology;
  • GM crop regulation;
  • plant breeding;
  • precautionary principle;
  • risk assessment

Summary

In the past 6 years, the global area of commercially grown, genetically modified (GM) crops has increased more than 30-fold to over 52 million hectares. The number of countries involved has more than doubled. Especially in developing countries, the GM crop area is anticipated to increase rapidly in the coming years. Despite this high adoption rate and future promises, there is a multitude of concerns about the impact of GM crops on the environment. Regulatory approaches in Europe and North America are essentially different. In the EU, it is based on the process of making GM crops; in the US, on the characteristics of the GM product. Many other countries are in the process of establishing regulation based on either system or a mixture. Despite these differences, the information required for risk assessment tends to be similar. Each risk assessment considers the possibility, probability and consequence of harm on a case-by-case basis. For GM crops, the impact of non-use should be added to this evaluation. It is important that the regulation of risk should not turn into the risk of regulation. The best and most appropriate baseline for comparison when performing risk assessment on GM crops is the impact of plants developed by traditional breeding. The latter is an integral and accepted part of agriculture.