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Food Safety

Genetically Modified Organisms

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Food and feed generally originates from plants and animals grown and bred by humans for several thousand years. Over time, those plants and animals with the most desirable characteristics were chosen for breeding the next generations of food and feed. This was, for example, the case for plants with an increased resistance to environmental pressures such as diseases or with an increased yield.

These desirable characteristics appeared through naturally occurring variations in the genetic make-up of those plants and animals. In recent times, it has become possible to modify the genetic make-up of living cells and organisms using techniques of modern biotechnology called gene technology. The genetic material is modified artificially to give it a new property (e.g. a plant's resistance to a disease, insect or drought, a plant's tolerance to a herbicide, improving a food's quality or nutritional value, increased yield).

Such organisms are called "genetically modified organisms" (GMOs). Food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called "genetically modified (GM) food or feed".

New: Commission proposes changes allowing EU countries freedom to restrict or prohibit use of Authorised GMOs.

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Further information

Coexistence with conventional and organic agriculture

Under normal agriculture conditions, the possibility of adventitious presence of authorised GM crops in non-GM crops cannot be excluded. Therefore...

GMO register

This search engine covers the Community register of GM food and feed (Regulation (EC) 1829/2003) and the GM products withdrawn from the market.

International affairs

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling...

Public consultations on GM food & feed authorisation applications

Before a GMO can be approved, the public has 30 days to comment. See applications and comments.

Reports and studies

Food and feed generally originates from plants and animals grown and bred by humans for several thousand years. Over time, those plants and animals...

Socio-economic considerations

The Environment Council asked the EU countries on 4 December 2008 to collect and exchange relevant information on the socio-economic implications of GMO cultivation across the food chain.

Traceability and labelling

Traceability enables tracking GMOs and GM food/feed products at all stages of the supply chain. Traceability also makes labelling of all GMOs and GM...

Transboundary movements

Regulation (EC) 1946/2003 regulates transboundary movements of GMOs and transposes the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety into EU law. The Protocol sets...