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Submission on GM foods and application of the precautionary principle in Europe

14 August 2014

The Royal Society submitted a response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on GM foods and application of the precautionary principle in Europe. In the response the Society argues that:

  • The safety of GM techniques should be considered as part of a broader evidence-based assessment of what constitutes a sustainable and resilient agricultural system.
  • A more effective regulatory system would result from a shift in emphasis from the method by which a crop is produced toward a focus on the trait that has been introduced.
  • The development of regulations should include an assessment of potential benefits alongside potential risks and take into account the uncertainties associated with both.
  • In its conventional application, the precautionary principle assesses the risks associated with taking a certain course of action’ but fails to assess the risk of not doing something.
  • The implementation of the precautionary principle should include the reassessment of the need for any restrictions when new evidence becomes available after a reasonable period of time.
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