Genetically Modified Organisms - Food and Feed

Assessment of the genetically modified maize MON 87429 under EU Regulation 1829/2003/EC on genetically modified food and feed (application EFSA-GMO-NL-2019-161)


Report no: 2023: 03

Published: 06.01.2023

Key message:

The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) has assessed an application for approval of the genetically modified maize MON 87429 for 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 scientific 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. The assignment is divided into three stages. (link)

Genetically modified maize MON 87429

Event MON 87429 is a genetically modified maize developed via Agrobacterium tumefaciens transformation. MON 87429 plants contain the transgenes pat, dmo, ft_t and cp4 epsps. Maize MON 87429 encodes the DMO, PAT and FT_T proteins. In addition, maize MON 87429 encodes the CP4 EPSPS protein and utilises an endogenous maize RNAi regulatory element to suppress its expression in pollen. This results in a lack of viable pollen and thus male sterility when MON 87429 plants are exposed to glyphosate-containing herbicides at growth stages ranging from V8 to V13. This is part of a hybridisation system to be used in inbred lines to facilitate the hybrid seeds production. This is not considered an agronomic trait since the application of glyphosate outside the specific growth stages does not lead to male sterile plants but reduces plant yield compared to plants not expressing the same trait.

VKM has assessed the documentation in application EFSA-GMO-NL-2019-161 and EFSA's scientific opinion on genetically modified MON 87429. VKM concludes that the applicant's scientific documentation for the genetically modified maize 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 modifications in maize MON 87429 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 specific Norwegian conditions have been identified regarding properties of the genetically modified maize, VKM's GMO panel has not performed a complete risk assessment of the maize.

About the assignment

In stage 1, VKM shall assess the health and environmental risks of the genetically modified organism and derived products in connection with the EFSA scientific 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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