1 Urban and landscape studies, Forest & Landscape Denmark, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschafts- und Landnutzungsforschung e.V.3 ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH4 Center for Agro-food Economy and Development5 GenØk6 ETH Zurich7 University of Vechta8 Institut for Agroøkologi - Jordbrugsproduktion og Bæredygtighed9 Plant Protection Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences10 Technische Universität Dresden11 Forschungsinstitut für Biologischen Landbau12 ENSSER13 UFZ14 ESRC Cesagen15 University of Edinburgh16 EAS17 DIN18 Donal Murphy-Bokern19 University of Pisa20 JSI21 Landscape Architecture and Planning, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet22 BfN23 VU University24 University of Bremen25 University of Caen26 Statistics Norway27 UKZUZ28 University of Edinburgh29 University of Pisa30 Landscape Architecture and Planning, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet31 University of Bremen
The assessment of the impacts of growing genetically modified (GM) crops remains a major political and scientific challenge in Europe. Concerns have been raised by the evidence of adverse and unexpected environmental effects and differing opinions on the outcomes of environmental risk assessments (ERA). The current regulatory system is hampered by insufficiently developed methods for GM crop safety testing and introduction studies. Improvement to the regulatory system needs to address the lack of well designed GM crop monitoring frameworks, professional and financial conflicts of interest within the ERA research and testing community, weaknesses in consideration of stakeholder interests and specific regional conditions, and the lack of comprehensive assessments that address the environmental and socio-economic risk assessment interface. To address these challenges, we propose a European Network for systematic GMO impact assessment (ENSyGMO) with the aim directly to enhance ERA and post-market environmental monitoring (PMEM) of GM crops, to harmonize and ultimately secure the long-term socio-political impact of the ERA process and the PMEM in the EU. These goals would be achieved with a multi-dimensional and multi-sector approach to GM crop impact assessment, targeting the variability and complexity of the EU agro-environment and the relationship with relevant socio-economic factors. Specifically, we propose to develop and apply methodologies for both indicator and field site selection for GM crop ERA and PMEM, embedded in an EU-wide typology of agro-environments. These methodologies should be applied in a pan-European field testing network using GM crops. The design of the field experiments and the sampling methodology at these field sites should follow specific hypotheses on GM crop effects and use state-of-the art sampling, statistics and modelling approaches. To address public concerns and create confidence in the ENSyGMO results, actors with relevant specialist knowledge from various sectors should be involved.