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Agriculture - Planting the seeds for sustainable farming and forestry
“To create a new organisational framework for the evaluation and monitoring of GMOs in European agriculture.”

The problem

Genetically modified (GM) crops are widely grown in many third countries. However, their cultivation in the EU is still very limited. The Union has adopted new policies to take account of concerns about potential risks to the environment and human health, as well as to ensure consumer choice. The new regulatory system requires strict pre-marketing evaluation, labelling of GMOs, and post-marketing traceability. But the information needed to implement this policy is fragmented. There is a need for an improved, EU-wide framework for assessing the overall impacts of GM crop cultivation. 

SIGMEA  A toolkit for assessing the ecological and economic impacts of GM crops


SIGMEA will create a science-based framework for assessing the ecological and socio-economic impacts of GM crops.

The project will:

  • Synthesise data on environmental impacts of GM crops within a structured database
  • Identify and fill gaps in knowledge
  • Construct models for gene flow from GM crops at the landscape level
  • Analyse scenarios which evaluate GM and non-GM crop co-existence and economic cost-benefits in regional case studies
  • Evaluate mitigation measures to minimise gene flow and mixing of GM and non-GM crops
  • Develop novel GMO detection methods and provide a long-term monitoring strategy for GM crops

Contribution to policy development:

SIGMEA will:

  • Provide a toolkit to help policy-makers predict ecological and economic impacts, and formulate cost-benefit analyses of GMO introductions
  • Aid the implementation of Directive 2001/18/EC by providing a framework for the pre-marketing evaluation and post-marketing traceability of novel products
  • Assess the liability implications of cross-contamination of GM and non-GM crops and make recommendations for possible liability regimes

Project deliverables

  • Prototype generic gene flow modelling platform – May 2006
  • Software landscape generator for regional analysis of GM crop impacts – May 2006
  • Scenarios for managing co-existence of GM and non-GM crops – November 2006
  • Legal regime on liability – November 2006
  • Decision-support toolbox – May 2007


  • Website – November 2004
  • Workshops – November 2006, May 2007
  • Presentations at conferences – May 2007
  • Scientific publications – May 2007

Technical information

Project acronym: SIGMEA
Project’s official full title: Sustainable Introduction of GMOs into European Agriculture
Research priority: Tools and assessment methods for sustainable agriculture and forestry management
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 501986
Start date: 01/05/2004
Kick off meeting: May 2004
Completion date: 01/05/2007
European Commission scientific officer: Ciaran Mangan (

Name: National Institute of Agricultural Botany
Abbreviated Name: NIAB
Address: Huntingdon Road - Cambridge - CB3 0LE
Country: UK
Tel: +44 1223 342200
Fax: +44 1223 277602


Name: Centre Technique Interprofessionnel des Oléagineux Métropolitains
Abbreviated Name: CETIOM
Country: France

Name: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Abbreviated Name: INRA
Country: France

Name: University of Bremen
Abbreviated Name: Uni Bremen
Country: Germany

Name: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
Abbreviated Name: FhG/ISI
Country: Germany

Name: Joint Research Centre
Abbreviated Name: JRC
Country: Belgium

Name: Jozef Stefan Institute
Abbreviated Name: JSI
Country: Slovenia

Name: University of Sheffield
Abbreviated Name: Uni Sheffield
Country: UK

Name: Rothamsted Research
Abbreviated Name: RRes
Country: UK

Name: Scottish Crop Research Institute
Abbreviated Name: SCRI
Country: UK

Name: Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research
Abbreviated Name: IGER
Country: UK

Name: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Abbreviated Name: ETH
Country: Switzerland

Name: Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria
Abbreviated Name: INIA
Country: Spain

Name: Universita Politecnica delle Marche
Abbreviated Name: UNIVPM
Country: Italy

Name: Istituto Sperimentale per le Colture Industriali
Abbreviated Name: ISCI
Country: Italy

Name: Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit
Abbreviated Name: BVL
Country: Germany

Name: Plant Research International
Abbreviated Name: PRI
Country: The Netherlands

Name: ADAS Consulting limited
Abbreviated Name: ADAS
Country: UK

Name: Central Science Laboratory, DEFRA
Abbreviated Name: CSL
Country: UK

Name: University of Hohenheim
Abbreviated Name: UHOH
Country: Germany

Name: University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice
Abbreviated Name: USB
Country: Czech Republic

Name: University of Bern
Abbreviated Name: UNIBE
Country: Switzerland

Name: Centre for Agricultural Research
Abbreviated Name: CLO
Country: Belgium

Name: Catholic University of Louvain
Abbreviated Name: KULeuven
Country: Belgium

Name: Czech University of Agriculture in Prague
Abbreviated Name: CZU
Country: Czech Republic

Name: Danish Research Institute of Food Economics
Abbreviated Name: FOI
Country: Denmark

Name: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau/Research Institut of Organic Agriculture
Abbreviated Name: FiBL
Country: Switzerland

Name: Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences
Abbreviated Name: AGRSCI
Country: Denmark

Name: Technical University of Braunschweig
Abbreviated Name: TUBS
Country: Germany

Name: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas
Abbreviated Name: CSIC
Country: Spain

Name: Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry
Abbreviated Name: BBA
Country: Germany

Name: Silsoe Research Institute
Abbreviated Name: SRI
Country: UK

Name: Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Abbreviated Name: TUM
Country: Germany

Name: Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants
Abbreviated Name: CERC
Country: UK

Name: National Environmental Research Institute
Abbreviated Name: NERI
Country: Denmark

Name: University of Paris 11
Abbreviated Name: UPS
Country: France

Name: Arcadia International
Abbreviated Name: Arcadia
Country: Belgium

Name: Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries
Abbreviated Name: IRTA
Country: Spain

Name: Riso National Laboratory
Abbreviated Name: RISO
Country: Denmark

Name: Plant Breeding and Acclimatisation Institute
Abbreviated Name: IHAR
Country: Poland

Name: University of Reading
Abbreviated Name: Uni Reading
Country: UK

Name: ARVALIS - Institut du vegetal
Abbreviated Name: ARVALIS
Country: France

Name: University of Applied Sciences of Weihenstephan
Abbreviated Name: FHW
Country: Germany