The Theory and Practice of European Traceability Regulations for GM Food and Feed
J. Davison and Y. Bertheau. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Versailles, France. Cereal Foods World 53(4):186-196.
In the United States, genetically modified (GM) crops are normally considered as being substantially equivalent to the crop from which they are derived. In contrast, in Europe, GM crops are considered as being produced by a new process, with each GM plant requiring a new assessment and authorization procedure. In Europe, the safety of all food and feed is assured by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). As part of its duties, EFSA assesses the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so that all GMOs appearing on the market carry a positive EFSA recommendation and have the approval of the European Commission (EC). Despite these guarantees, the European population remains skeptical or hostile to GMOs. Consequently, the EU has developed the strictest GMO regulations in the world. Under regulations (EC) 1829/2003 and 1830/2003, GM food and feed needs to be traced and labeled above a threshold of 0.9% of adventitious presence of EU-approved GMOs. The official reason for labeling is to provide consumer information and to enable free choice. Labeling is not a food safety issue, since food deemed unsafe by EFSA does not appear on the market. This review considers the difficulties in interpretation, application, and compliance with regulation (EC) 1829/2003 and other GMO regulations, as well as the possible consequences for EU trade with GMO producing countries. It also points out some of the benefits of GMO traceability and detection research and of the coexistence studies on GMO and non-GMO supply chains as carried out under the ECís Co-Extra project.