Assessment & Impacts

Principles and Approaches Genetic interactions in ecosystems are more dynamic and complex than acknowledged so far. Genetic change and genetic exchange phenomena seem to occur more frequently in nature than in laboratories, and may be regulated by unknown environmental factors. Local environmental conditions and chemical contaminants (pesticides and other xenobiotics), that will undoubtedly vary in concentrations and combinations between different locations are examples of such environmental factors. These may have impacts on the extent of horizontal gene transfer, and on how modified genes are expressed and affect the recipient organisms. Consequently, it is important to establish model systems in the laboratory, which mimic the ecological interactions and complexity of the real world.

Basis for risk assessment and management:
Risk and probability are not the same. Risk can be defined as the probability of an occurrence of an incident or phenomenon, multiplied by the consequences arising therefrom, if it occurs. At this moment we know little about both probability and consequences in relation to putative health and environmental effects of many genetic engineering applications.

Horizontal gene transfer: Horizontal gene transfer signifies a non-sexual transmission of genetic information within or between species. The phenomenon is common in nature, but our knowledge concerning ecological processes promoting such events and barriers prohibiting them is scanty.

Socio-economic considerations: The impact of genetically modified organisms goes beyond ecological and health dimensions. They have profound impact on society, including livelihoods, production systems, trade, culture and ethics.

Genome Editing Found to Cause Numerous Genomic Irregularities

A new scientific paper reveals that genome editing can cause genomic irregularities in the resultant GMOs, even if genes are not inserted, or inserted only transiently. This underscores the need for a process-oriented risk assessment, which would also improve the risk assessment of first-generation GMOs. […]

Need for Broad Assessment in the Regulation of Genome-Edited Products

This article evaluates arguments supporting that an approval procedure for genome-edited organisms for food or feed should include broad assessment covering societal, ethical and environmental concerns, and demonstrates that such assessment is feasible and justified. […]

GE Organisms that Spread in the Environment Can Rapidly Damage Biodiversity

Releases of GE organisms able to propagate and spread throughout natural populations can rapidly damage the stability of ecosystems and endanger the health of humans, animals and plants. […]

EU Needs More Robust Regulatory Assessments in Place for Gene Drives

A study finds that the EU’s current GMO regulatory provisions are insufficient to cover the potential environmental, human and animal health risks of releases of gene drive organisms into the environment and calls for more robust assessments to be developed. […]

Why Gene-Edited Organisms Must Undergo Mandatory Risk Assessment and Ethical Oversight

This overview outlines the possible impacts that genome editing can have and calls for all organisms derived from all applications of SDN-1 and SDN-2 to undergo mandatory risk assessment along with social and ethical oversight. […]

Long-Term Study Shows that India’s Bt Cotton Losing the Fight Against Pests

Bt cotton in India has been found to be no match for insect pests, and in fact farmers now spend more on pesticides today than before the introduction of Bt cotton. […]

Need for ‘Cut-Off Criteria’ to Prevent the Uncontrolled Spread of Gene Drive Organisms

To control the risks of gene drives, ‘cut-off criteria’ need to be defined to prevent the uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered gene drive organisms. […]

Reanalysis of Carcinogenicity Data Shows Glyphosate Can Cause Cancer in Experimental Animals

A review and reanalysis of 13 animal carcinogenicity studies shows that exposure of rats and mice to glyphosate caused a variety of tumours that differed by sex, species, strain and length of exposure. […]

Risk Assessment Challenges of Synthetic Gene Drive Organisms

Our understanding of any potential adverse impacts of gene drive organisms on the environment or human health is limited by critical knowledge gaps and uncertainties with regard to both intended and unintended effects, preventing conduct of robust and reliable risk assessments. […]

Gene Drive Organisms: Implications for the Environment and Nature Conservation

A report endorsed by eight European environmental agencies has been published on the implications on the environment and nature conservation of gene drive organisms. […]