Overhaul of EC regime for regulating GMOs

Wide-ranging changes to the EC's arrangements for regulating deliberate releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been made by an amending Directive agreed by Environment Ministers in June. Regulatory procedures set up in 1990 have been tightened up in a bid to avoid the delays which have hit the decision-making process as public concern over GMOs has grown, but it remains likely that applications for marketing consents will take a long time to determine. At the same time, new provisions have been adopted on labelling and traceability of GMOs, to require post-release monitoring and renewal of marketing consents after ten years, to harmonise risk assessment practices, and to require the indirect effects of GMOs to be considered in the authorisation process. Ethical issues raised by GMOs are also to be considered, and could become another source of tension in the regulatory process.

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