Socio-economic aspects of GMO’s
The minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), Jacqueline Cramer, asked COGEM to draw up socio-economic criteria for the application of GMOs in agriculture. COGEM has identified and describes in this report a number of building blocks which could play a part in assessing the contribution that GM crops could make towards ‘more sustainable’ agriculture. The building blocks in this monitoring report are related to commonly recurring key themes in the gene technology debate. The formulated criteria are intended as input in a political and public process in which it is considered how sustainability aspects could be included in the assessment of GMOs.
COGEM has formulated nine themes and associated criteria which could serve as building blocks in an assessment framework on the socio-economic and sustainability aspects of GMOs:
The production and use of GM crops must contribute to more sustainable agriculture in the form of:
Benefit to society
1. The production of GM crops leads to an increase in yield, contributes to harvest security or offers some other form of general benefit to society.
The elements involved here include: harvest security, food security, food quality, environmental benefit, cost saving, recreation.
Economics and prosperity
2. The production and use of GM crops contributes equally to local and overall prosperity and the economy and, where possible, leads to an improvement.
The elements involved here include: employment, efficiency of the production process, productivity and profit.
Health and welfare
3. The production and use of GM crops means that the health and welfare of workers, the local population and consumers remains at the same level and, where possible, improves.
The elements involved here include: human rights, the working environment and terms of employment.
Local and general food supply
4. The production and use of GM crops means that the local food supply remains at the same level and, where possible, improves.
The elements involved here include: food security and fair trade.
5. The production of GM crops offers the country or region concerned, if so desired, room to conserve and continue specific cultural heritage aspects or other local applications (such as building materials, medicines).
The elements involved here include: local applications and traditions, autonomy of the local population.
Freedom of choice
6. The consumer and the manufacturer’s freedom of choice regarding GMO (or GMO-free) is safeguarded in the production and import of GM crops.
The elements involved here include: GMO (or GMO-free) labelling of products, product information, co-existence and innovation, and research freedom.
7. The admittance and assessment of GM crops in terms of safety to humans and the environment takes place in the country concerned in accordance with the legislation, on the basis of the international agreements in force concerning human and environmental safety.
The elements involved here include: food safety and environmental safety.
8. The production of GM crops does not a) lead to a reduction in the agrobiodiversity of the agricultural environment and where possible strengthens it, and b) damage protected or vulnerable biodiversity.
The elements involved here include: agrobiodiversity, protected or vulnerable biodiversity, places of origin of agricultural crops.
9. The production and processing of GM crops means that a) the quality of the soil, surface water and groundwater, and air, does not deteriorate and, where possible, is improved and b) the emission of greenhouse gases along the entire chain (development, production, processing and transport) remains neutral or declines relative to conventional agriculture.
The elements involved here include: emissions of hazardous substances to the soil, surface water and air, soil fertility and resistance.
The COGEM Policy report can be found under the ‘Download publication’ button and a summary of the report can be found here.