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What do we still need to know about GMOs?

By: PRLog
PRLog - Aug. 11, 2015 - The EU research project PreSto GMO ERA-Net will present its final results on 17 August 2015 at EXPO (Milan, Italy) in conjunction with a public discussion on research needs for a better understanding of the risks and benefits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The goal of the PreSto GMO ERA‐Net project was to take key preparatory steps towards the planning of an EU research coordination programme to streamline future transnational research on the effects of GMOs in the areas of human and animal health and the environment and techno- economic impacts. To this end, the project identified knowledge gaps and research needs linked to current and anticipated new GM products and aligned them with stakeholder views in the course of multi-step stakeholder surveys.

Date: 17th August 2015
Event location: Milan, Italy
Venue: Esposizione Universale 2015 (EXPO), EU Pavilion (n°95) and Piacenza stand
Opening hours: 6.00 pm - 8.00 pm (local time)

Event Agenda

Project website


Notes for editors:

Background information on the project

What are the proven risks and benefits? In many cases there are no clear answers.

The risks and potential benefits of genetically modified organisms are viewed differently from one European country to another. Do GM crops support sustainable agriculture or could they harm biodiversity? Will GM crops help feed the world? What are their economic impacts and do they pose health risks? It seems that European societies have not found clear answers to such questions, so GMOs are still a highly controversial subject. As a result, the EU Member States follow different approaches. For example, some allow the cultivation of GM crops, while others have enacted national cultivation bans.

This situation is linked in part to gaps in our knowledge, which can hamper a wider acceptance of evaluations of the risks and benefits of existing GM products. Opinion making on GMOs is aggravated by the fact that each GM product has its own characteristics and has to be assessed individually. However, views regarding risks and benefits of GMOs also depend on the value systems, expectations and concerns of citizens and stakeholders. These are issues that research projects have probably not addressed in sufficient detail in the past.

Up to 200 new GMOs will reach the global market in the next ten years and most of them will enter the EU approval process. This is another challenge facing Europe in its search for a responsible approach to GMOs.

It is a situation that demands a timely conception of aligned research programmes within Europe to support a purposeful and adequate risk and benefit analysis of the use of GMOs.

Developing an European agenda for GMO impact research

The EU research project PreSto GMO ERA-Net (Sept. 2013 - Aug. 2015) laid the groundwork for transnational research by EU Member States on the health, environmental and economic impacts of GMOs.

As well as mapping previous research efforts in the area of GMO risk and benefit assessment, PreSto GMO ERA-Net also identified ongoing research and future research needs linked to anticipated new GM products.

These results have been used to highlight knowledge gaps in GMO impact research. The results were recently aligned with stakeholder views in the course of multi-step stakeholder surveys. This led to the identification of future research needs, both from the researchers’ and from a broader societal perspective. Identified research priorities are often still related to health and environmental risks, but a need to assess the benefits associated with GMO applications has also emerged because there is insufficient data in this area.

The results were used to develop advice for implementing joint research activities by EU Member States within the framework of the EU-funded programme Horizon 2020. The outcome of these joint research activities is expected to improve the basis for informed decision-making on questions relating to the risk–benefit assessment of GMOs.

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