Genetically Modified Organisms - Food and Feed

Assessment of the genetically modified cotton GHB614 under EU Regulation 1829/2003/EC on genetically modified food and feed (renewal application EFSA-GMO-RX-018)


Report no: 2022:08

Published: 28.02.2022

Key message:

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) has assessed a renewal application for approval of the genetically modified cotton GHB614for food and feed uses, import and processing in the EU.

In accordance with an assignment specified by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) and the Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA), VKM assesses whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) intended for the European market can pose risks to human or animal health, or the environment in Norway. VKM assesses the scientific documentation regarding GMO applications seeking approval for use of GMOs as food and feed, processing, or cultivation.

The EU Regulation 1829/2003/EC (Regulation) covers living GMOs that fall under the Norwegian Gene Technology Act, as well as processed food and feed from GMOs (dead material) that fall under the Norwegian Food Act. The regulation is currently not part of the EEA agreement or implemented in Norwegian law.

Norway conducts its own assessments of GMO applications in preparation for the possible implementation of the Regulation.

In accordance with the assignment by NFSA and NEA, VKM assesses GMO applications during public hearings initiated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as well as after EFSA has published its own risk assessment of a GMO, up until EU member countries vote for or against approval in the EU Commission.

Genetically modified cotton GHB641

Genetically modified cotton GHB614 is developed by transforming plant cells with the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The cotton expresses a modified epsps gene (2mepsps) from maize. The 2mEPSPS enzyme is insensitive to glyphosate and thereby confers tolerance in cotton GHB614 to glyphosate-based herbicides.

VKM has not provided comments to application EFSA-GMO-RX-018 during EFSA's public hearing period in accordance with the assignment from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency, due to other priorities.

However, VKM has assessed the documentation in application and EFSA's scientific opinion of genetically modified cotton GHB614. VKM concludes that the applicant's scientific documentation for the genetically modified cotton GHB614 is satisfactory for risk assessment, and in accordance with EFSA guidelines for risk assessment of genetically modified plants for food or feed uses.

The genetic modification in cotton GHB614 do not indicate an increased health or environmental risk in Norway compared with EU countries. EFSA's risk assessment is therefore sufficient also for Norwegian conditions. As no conditions specific to Norway has been identified regarding properties of the genetically modified cotton, VKM's GMO panel has not performed a complete risk assessment of the cotton.

About the assignment

The assignment is divided into three stages.

In stage 1, VKM shall assess the health and environmental risks of the genetically modified organism and derived products in connection with the EFSA public hearing of GMO applications. VKM shall review the scientific documentation that the applicant has submitted and possibly provide comments to EFSA. VKM must also consider: i) whether there are specific Norwegian conditions that could give other risks in Norway than those mentioned in the application, ii) whether the Norwegian diet presents a different health risk for the Norwegian population should the GMO be approved, compared to the European population, and iii) risks associated with co-existence with conventional and/or ecologic production of plants for GMOs seeking approval for cultivation. Relevant measures to ensure co-existence must also be considered.

In stage 2, VKM shall assess whether comments from Norway have been satisfactorily answered by EFSA. In addition, VKM shall assess whether comments from other countries imply need for further follow-up.

If EFSAs response to Norwegian comments is not satisfactory, or comments by other countries imply the need for further follow-up, VKM shall in stage 3 perform a risk assessment of these conditions, including conditions specific to Norway.

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