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Multi-Sector Monitoring Needed For GM Crops - UN

Multi-Sector Monitoring Needed For Genetically Modified Crops – UN

Faced with the “dramatic increase” in the range and scale of genetically modified (GM) crops, especially in developing countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (<"http://www.fao.org">FAO) today <"http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2005/89259/index.html">called for comprehensive multi-sector monitoring of both the benefits and potential hazards such cultivation to the environment.

Experts convened by the FAO recommended that any responsible deployment of GM crops needs to comprise the whole technology development process, from the pre-release risk assessment, to biosafety considerations and post release monitoring.

Environmental goals must also encompass the maintenance and protection of basic natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity. In this way monitoring could become the key element in generating the necessary knowledge to protect agro-systems, rural livelihoods and broader ecological integrity.

“FAO’s aim is to provide a tool to assist countries in making their own informed choices on the matter, as well as protect the productivity and ecological integrity of farming systems,” FAO Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture Department Louise O. Fresco said.

“The need to monitor both the benefits and potential hazards of released GM crops to the environment is becoming ever more important with the dramatic increase in the range and scale of their commercial cultivation, especially in developing countries,” she added.

Organizing the session in light of the controversy and public concern over GM, FAO asked the group of agricultural scientists from many parts of the world to provide clear preliminary guidelines on the most accurate and scientifically sound approach to monitoring the environmental effects of existing GM crops.

The experts noted that a great deal of data is already available. What needs to be done is to bring together and coordinate this volume of often scattered information. They also emphasized that monitoring the effects of GM crops on the environment is not only necessary but feasible even with limited resources when it is integrated with the deployment of these crops.

They noted that field and traditional expertise could be used in indicators to measure the effects of GM crops on the environment. Significant changes that might cause concern should be promptly notified. In this regard, a full stakeholder engagement embracing farmers, scientists, consumers, public and the private sector, and the civil society will be necessary and integral to the process.

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