A programme launched in 2010…
The French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (MEDDE) launched the RiskOGM research programme in 2010.
Its introduction was part of the June 2008 law on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). This law sets out the legislative and regulatory framework applying to GMOs in France on the basis of three key principles:
- the precautionary principle
- the principle that the use of GMOs must be compatible with the rules on coexistence between different crop types (GM agriculture, conventional agriculture, organic agriculture)
- the principle of triple evaluation of GMO impact: health, environmental and socio-economic (costs and benefits associated with their use).
… to build an interdisciplinary scientific community focusing on GMOs…
In this context of a new legal and regulatory framework, RiskOGM's objective is to support public decision-making by helping to build an interdisciplinary scientific community meeting demand from the public authorities for expertise, advice and finalised research into GMOs.
To start the ball rolling, the Ministry has launched and financed two calls for research bids (APR) since the introduction of the RiskOGM programme, the first in 2010 and the second in 2013.
… and respond to important health, environmental and economic questions
Progress in the techniques of molecular biology and knowledge about fundamental biological mechanisms have led to notable developments in genetic engineering, offering prospects of greater mastery. These technical and scientific advances have been accompanied by the large-scale spread of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and more specifically genetically modified crops (GMCs), in several regions of the world.
This innovation calls for renewed questioning of the health, environmental and economic risks and benefits of GMOs in the short and longer terms, and simultaneously of their regulatory frameworks and methods of evaluation.
With regard to health risks and benefits, scientific opinions differ. While some experts see the question as settled, others consider that the current state of scientific knowledge is inadequate for a pronouncement on the long-term effects of consuming GMOs and that there is need for further scientific research. Still others call for vigilance in order to detect any weak signs of potential health effects, while considering that the studies currently required before marketing is authorised guarantee a high level of health safety.
Scientific positions also vary with regard to the environment and the methodologies and indicators used for monitoring territory in order to prevent any unintended environmental consequences of agricultural practices. There are also diverging opinions about the management methods and technical resources to use when different types of crops coexist (conventional agriculture with GMOs, conventional agriculture without GMOs and organic agriculture).
The socio-economic analysis of the impact of GMOs is also controversial. There is currently little agreement about the right methods to use to examine the costs and benefits that would arise for the various stakeholders in the agri-food sector.