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Inhalt: Risk assessment of genetically modified plants

The cultivation and sale of genetically modified organisms (GMO) are strictly regulated in the EU. Under European law, the release of GMO – currently mainly plants - is subject to a detailed assessment of their potential risks to humans and the environment before they can be authorized for experimental purposes and cultivation or for use as food or feed in the EU.

In Germany, the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) coordinates the national authorization procedure and involves other institutions and federal authorities for expert opinions. One of these is the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI), which reviews the scientific dossiers prepared for the application and issues an opinion. Field trials also require approval by the BVL at national level.

Eventually, the granting or refusal of a GMO authorization is an EU-wide procedure that involves all member states and is based on EU law.  At European level, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the competent authority that manages the entire authorization procedure.

Cultivation of genetically modified plants (GMP) in Europe and Germany: At the beginning of 2023, 90 genetically modified plants were registered in Europe and approved for import into the EU as food or feed. However, only the pest-resistant Bt corn MON810 is grown commercially on a large scale. Most of the cultivated acreage is in Spain, with smaller areas in Portugal.

Bt corn MON810: Bt corn produces an insecticidal protein that kills insect pests such as the larvae of the European corn borer when they feed on Bt corn. The gene for the protein comes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The protein has a narrow spectrum of activity. Its consumption by mammals is safe.

In Germany and many EU countries there is currently no experimental or commercial cultivation of GM plants. Current statistics can be found in the BVL's site register.