Market introduction of genetically modified food crops (GMOs) has attracted broad public attention and has given rise to concerns related to the safety of these types of foods for humans and animals. Questions have been raised whether current food safety assessment strategies and test protocols cover adequately risks of chronic exposure of humans and animals to theses crops. Moreover, questions have been raised concerning the fate of GMOs throughout the food supply chain with respect to labelling of these components or the production of 'GMO-FREE' foods.
A European Thematic Network has been composed consisting of experts of different disciplines to identify key issues of evaluate the adequacy of testing methods, the detection of unintended effects, gene transfer and traceabiliy and quality assurance of GMOs. Working groups will evaluate the adequacy of testing methods, the detection of unintended effects, gene transfer and traceability and quality assurance of GMOs. This will result in integrated position documents, which may contribute to a better understanding of the hazards and risks associated with GMOs and may strengthen public acceptance of the market introduction of these products.
The Thematic Network will identify proper research strategies and tools to address issues related to safety and management of transgenic food products. Participants involved in research, safety assessment and management, regulation and consumers interests will evaluate on-going research activities in this area, discuss new approaches and establish a permanent platform for communication between the various parties involved. As a result a number of research papers and position documents will be written by various Working Groups. These documents will be incorporated into one position paper, which will give guidance on the various aspects mentioned above. It is important to demonstrate that the scientific challenges of safety testing of genetically modified foods can be met, while further initiatives will be taken in Europe to improve current test methodologies, using modern molecular based techniques. Agreement on safety assessment strategies for GMOs, and on issues related to risk management and risk communication will facilitate market introduction of GMOs in Europe, and therefore bring the European industry in a competitive position.