Conference-Report available: "Regional Aspects in Precautionary GMO Decision Making"

From 26th to 27th March 2009 the Conference "Regional Aspects in Precautionary GMO Decision Making", hosted by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Umweltbundesamt and AGES (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety), took place in Vienna, Austria. In the Council Conclusions of 4 th December 2008 all member states of the European Union have clearly expressed, that the European risk assessment procedures need further improvements, in particular when it comes to long term effects of GMOs on the environment including health aspects. The main focus of this conference was the assessment of regional aspects in GMO Decision making. These aspects are directly linked to Directive 2001/18/EC, as the criteria for risk assessment for the release of GMOs therein clearly state that the effects of a GMO on the receiving environment must be taken into account. The conference was intended as a starting point in the EU-wide discussion to tread new paths in defining regional aspects and sensitive ecosystems during the riskassessment of GMOs for cultivation within the EU.

KonferenzteilnehmerInnen auf der Treppe des Naturhistorischen Museums
Vergrößern des Bildes 'KonferenzteilnehmerInnen auf der Treppe des Naturhistorischen Museums'
v.l.n.r.: Prinz zu Löwenstein, AL DI Stangl (BMLFUW), Mag. Lehner (Büro Stöger) und Alois Stöger (ehemaliger Gesundheitsminister)
Vergrößern des Bildes 'v.l.n.r.: Prinz zu Löwenstein, AL DI Stangl (BMLFUW), Mag. Lehner (Büro Stöger) und Alois Stöger (ehemaliger Gesundheitsminister)'
ReferentInnen aus den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten
Vergrößern des Bildes 'ReferentInnen aus den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten'

Another important topics raised during the meeting were:

  • How socio-economic aspects could be addressed during the approval procedure for GMOs intended for placing on the market according to the applying EUlegislation and
  • The evaluation of the possibility of EU-memberstates to define GMO-free zones as indicated in the Council Conclusions of 4th December 2008. Possible solutions based on the existing legal framework of the EU on GMOs as well as an "opting out" of memberstates and its consistency with current legislation was discussed.

In general the necessity of an intensive cooperation among the memberstates on a scientific as well as political level was stressed during the meeting.