Argument: Over-precaution with GM foods makes risk assessments difficult


Muffy Koch. “The case for GMOs in the developing world”. 4th International Crop Science Congress – The second is the overly precautionary approach being encouraged in biosafety decision-making systems. These risk review frameworks are often unable to respond to the level of risk posed by individual GM crops and so impose the most stringent review and development requirements even on activities that pose little or no identifiable risk to the environment, including human health. While this has slowed private development of GM crops, its most devastating impact will be on public research. Products produced by local scientists to address local constraints in orphan crops will buckle under the delays and costs of unnecessarily complex decision-making processes.

One of the earlier constraints to accessing GM technology in Africa was the paucity of biosafety review systems able to assess the safety of GM trials, provide permission for such studies and monitor compliance with the necessary risk management conditions. This constraint is currently being addressed by the UNEP/GEF (United Nations Environmental Programme/ Global Environment Fund) programme that is facilitating the development of biosafety systems in most African countries. This programme will be expanded to help countries implement their biosafety systems and to encourage regional collaboration in risk assessment and risk management. Decisions on whether or not to use GMOs will be taken on a case-by-case basis at national level, supported by regional technical assessment of risks and public input (Morris and Koch, 2002).