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Genetically Modified Organisms

Preliminary environmental risk assessment of insect resistant genetically modified maize MON 89034 for cultivation (EFSA/GMO/BE/2011/90)

Report no: 2012: 31

Ordered: 12.05.2012

Published: 15.11.2012

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Main message:

The environmental risk assessment of the insect resistant genetically modified maize MON 89034 (Reference EFSA/GMO/BE/2011/90) has been performed by the Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) of the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM).

VKM has been requested by the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to issue a preliminary scientific opinion on the safety of the genetically modified maize MON 89034 (Unique identifier MON-89Ø34-3) for cultivation, and submit relevant scientific comments or questions to EFSA on the application EFSA/GMOBE/2011/90.

The current submission is intended to complement application EFSA-GMO-NL-2007-37, which was approved by Commission Decision 2009/813/EC of 30 October 2009, authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize MON 89034 (scope import, processing, food and feed).

Previous assessments

Maize MON89034 has previously been assessed by the VKM GMO Panel in connection with EFSA´s public hearing of the application EFSA/GMO/NL/2007/37 (VKM 2008a). Preliminary health- and environmental risk assessments of several stacked events, with MON 89034 as one of the parental lines, have also been performed by the VKM GMO Panel (VKM 2009a, b, c; VKM 2010a,b).

Assessment based on information provided by applicant, scientific comments from EFSA and MS and peer-reviewed litterature

The environmental risk assessment of the maize MON 89034 is based on information provided by the applicant in the application EFSA/GMO/BE/2011/90, and scientific comments from EFSA and other member states made available on the EFSA website GMO Extranet. The risk assessment also considered peer-reviewed scientific literature as relevant.

The VKM GMO Panel has evaluated MON 89034 with reference to its intended uses in the European Economic Area (EEA), and according to the principles described in the Norwegian Food Act, the Norwegian Gene Technology Act and regulations relating to impact assessment pursuant to the Gene Technology Act, Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms, and Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed.

VKM has also decided to take account of the appropriate principles described in the EFSA guidelines for the risk assessment of GM plants and derived food and feed (EFSA 2006, 2011a), the environmental risk assessment of GM plants (EFSA 2010), the selection of comparators for the risk assessment of GM plants (EFSA 2011b), and for the post-market environmental monitoring of GM plants (EFSA 2006, 2011c).

The scientific risk assessment of maize MON 89034 include molecular characterisation of the inserted DNA and expression of target proteins, comparative assessment of agronomic and phenotypic characteristics, unintended effects on plant fitness, potential for gene transfer, interactions between the GM plant and target and non-target organisms, effects on biogeochemical processes and evaluations of the post-market environmental plan.

In line with its mandate, VKM emphasised that assessments of sustainable development, societal utility and ethical considerations, according to the Norwegian Gene Technology Act and Regulations relating to impact assessment pursuant to the Gene Technology Act, shall not be carried out by the Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms. 

Molecular characterisation of MON 89034

The genetically modified maize MON 89034 was developed to provide protection against certain lepidopteran target pest, including European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and Mediterranean corn borer (Sesamia nonagrioides).

Protection is achieved through expression in the plant of two insecticidal Cry proteins, Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2, derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, a common soil bacterium.

Cry1A.105, encoded by the cry1A.105 gene, is a chimeric protein made up of different functional domains derived from three wild-type Cry proteins from B. thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki and aizawai. The Cry2Ab2 protein is encoded by the cry2Ab2 gene derived from B. thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki1.

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The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety

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