Post-market monitoring of genetically modified crops
Before a genetically modified (GM) crop can be approved for the European market, a number of conditions must be complied with. One of these is that a monitoring plan be compiled. This plan has a dual-purpose design. Its first purpose is to obtain confirmation of the environmental risk assessment drawn up when the crop was admitted to the market (Case Specific Monitoring), while the second purpose is to ensure that any adverse effects are detected that were not predicted on assessing the GMO (General Surveillance). Realisation of Case-Specific Monitoring requires an approach that does justice to the specific situation. This is because the effects to be expected depend on different circumstances. Concerning General Surveillance, it is impossible to predict what effect will occur and what the scope of this effect will be. In addition, the setting or population in which these effects could occur is either not or hardly predictable. COGEM advocates the use of existing monitoring systems for carrying out General Surveillance. Observations in agricultural areas can be made by GM crop growers and by bodies that inspect agricultural areas randomly A taskforce of experts should assess the relationship between the deviations found and the cultivated GM crops. If it is established that the deviation found was caused by the cultivated GM crop, it will have to be determined whether the effect has also caused adverse effects on humans and the environment. For ‘feeding’ the Task Force with information, COGEM recommends setting up a secretariat affiliated to the Task Force. This secretariat can also handle the statistically processed data from the monitoring systems and the observations made by the ‘agricultural organisations’ and farmers for assessment by the Task Force.