The European Commission has proposed a set of measures designed to improve the control of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before they enter European markets.

The measures, which would reinforce scientific consistency and transparency, will strengthen links between the European Food Safety Authority, the EC and member states. They aim to bring about “practical improvements to the European GMO legislative framework,” the EC said.

The EFSA will be required to increase its level of cooperation with national scientific bodies. It is hoped that increased communication will resolve scientific disagreements between member states and the EC.

The EFSA, which licenses GMOs in Europe, will be required “to provide more detailed justification, in its opinions on individual applications, for not accepting scientific objections raised by the competent national authorities,” the Commission said.

The agency must also address more thoroughly the long-term effects on health and biodiversity before GMOs go on sale. The licensing of GMOs has come under attack on this front from consumer groups, environmental groups and national governments.
The EC proposed the establishment of an authorisation process for GMOs, with “additional proportionate risk management measures on a case by case basis” if specific risks are identified.

“We want to increase the trust of Member States and of public opinion in the GMO authorization procedure,” said Philip Tod, spokesman for Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

The EU has been regulating the marketing and production of GMOs for five years, but has faced recent criticism and resistance to the licensing of GMOs. It is hoped that the new measures will address public concerns. “We heard the call for greater transparency in the scientific evaluation phase,” said Tod, commenting on the Commission’s latest proposal.