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.

Robust Risk Assessment Urgently Needed for All New Genetically Engineered Plants

This study analyses the potential risks of new genomic techniques (NGT) and concludes that the associated unintended impacts urgently necessitate a uniform, robust risk assessment of all NGT plants. […]

Assessing Potential Environmental Effects of Genome-Editing Applications for Plants

This review identifies important elements for robust environmental risk assessment, which need to be taken into account for a risk-oriented regulatory approach towards genome-edited plant applications in the EU. […]

A Systems Biology Approach to Assessing Potential Unintended Effects in GM Crops

Empirical evidences shows that a science-based, risk-related approach based on omics techniques can be implemented for risk assessment of GMOs, to assess potential unintended effects. […]

Current Models Assessing Gene Drives Lack Ecological Realism

Given that the effects of gene drives in the environment may be irreversible, more ecological realism is needed in models used to assist environmental risk assessments. […]

Study Finds Glyphosate Exposure Linked to Urinary Oxidative Stress in Humans

Major new US government study finds a positive association between glyphosate exposure and urinary oxidative stress, a key characteristic of carcinogens, in humans. […]

Glyphosate Directly Causes Impaired Development and Mortality in Lacewing

Lacewing larvae fed with glyphosate at concentrations below recommended application doses showed arrested development and high mortality, revealing a gap in risk assessment that does not test direct oral exposure of insects to systemic herbicides. […]

Why ‘Safe Enough’ is Not Good Enough in Debates on New Gene Technologies

Open, transparent, and inclusive societal debate that goes beyond the ‘safe enough’ framing of risk assessment would allow for discussions of the socio-economic and cultural aspects, and of the benefits, drawbacks, and alternatives to new gene techniques. […]

New GMOs Will Not Reduce Pesticide Use

This briefing provides evidence that new GM crops will not reduce pesticide use and shows that system-based solutions like agroecology can effectively do so. […]

Urgent Need for Precautionary Regulation of New GE Techniques

Many potential intended and unintended effects are specific to the techniques of new GE and may result in a new quality of risks that demand independent and mandatory risk assessment. […]

Bt Cotton in India is Not a Pro-Poor Technology

This study argues that Bt cotton in India contains an inherent ‘sociobiological obsolescence’ , which has resulted in the dispossession of resource-poor farmers and has thus never been a pro-poor technology. […]