Assessing impacts of genetically modified organisms on biodiversity

While biotechnology in general presents a number of potential benefits to society, the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment can have negative impacts on biodiversity.

Modern biotechnology has far reaching applications for agriculture, chemical processing, human and animal health, and environmental management, and represent some of the fastest growing industries in the world. However, the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment raises many questions about safety, ecological and agricultural impacts, genetic diversity, socio-economic effects, and the appropriateness of using genetically engineered organisms in particular applications. Many concerns relate to the nature of the risks involved, which are often difficult to predict and determine. Complex relationships exist between inserted genes and other genes, and between genes and the biochemistry of cells and organisms. If not controlled and monitored, genetic engineering risks triggering a cascade of uncertain effects and reducing natural biodiversity.

Applying the precautionary principle, the European Community has established mechanisms notably under [Directives 90/219/CEE and 90/220/CEE] to assess, regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of genetically modified organisms resulting from biotechnology which may affect biodiversity. Moreover, the Community has taken the lead to finalise a [Protocol on Biosafety] under the [Convention on Biological Diversity] by the end of 1998. The Protocol should establish at the international level procedures in the field of safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms, specifically focusing on transboundary movement of any living modified organism resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and should set out appropriate procedures for advance informed agreement.
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies