The proceedings of an international workshop on the current state of play regarding research into economic impacts of GMO cultivation worldwide are now available. The report finds that more independent and robust socio-economic studies, both ex ante and ex post on the impacts of GM crops are necessary, in addition to strict science-based safety assessments, to feed a more objective and transparent reflection on GMO cultivation.
The workshop was organised by the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations in November 2011 to review for policy makers the main findings of scientists who are active world-wide in the field of socio-economic assessment.
This workshop followed the publication in April 2011 of a Commission report on the socio-economic implications of GMO cultivation, as an answer to a request by the Environment Council in December 2008. Member States were invited to collect and exchange relevant information on the implications of the placing on the market of GMOs including socio-economic benefits and risks and agronomic sustainability. The European Commission was also requested to provide the above mentioned report to the European Parliament and to the Council, based on the information provided by the EU countries.
This socio-economic report highlighted the fact that there was insufficient evidence to perform a proper analysis on these impacts and proposed that the Commission, together with Member States and stakeholders, should work on the definition of a set of robust indicators in order to address this gap. In October 2011, a public conference on the socio-economic dimension of GMO cultivation was also organised by the Commission. FAO was requested to collaborate in the organisation of the November 2011 workshop because of its role in the global governance of the food and agriculture system through intergovernmental bodies and treaties and the provision of capacity building and analytical studies.
The European Commission is now taking a step further to build on the conclusions of the socio-economic report published in 2011 and on the outcomes of the two events, and is setting up a joint technical working group. This new European Socio-Economic Bureau (ESEB), which will gather Commission and Member States' representatives, will be managed by the JRC and will address the issues identified in the socio-economic report.