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Information Resource
Record information and status
Record ID
103522
Status
Published
Date of creation
2012-05-14 20:49 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of last update
2012-08-02 18:01 UTC (dina.abdelhakim@cbd.int)
Date of publication
2012-11-08 07:30 UTC (helmut.gaugitsch@umweltbundesamt.at)

General Information
Title
Observational science in the environmental risk assessment and management of GMOs
Author
Jack A. Heinemann and O.A. El-Kawy
Author’s contact information
Jack A. Heinemann

School of Biological Sciences
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand

Email: jack.heinemann@canterbury.ac.nz
Organization(s) involved in the publication of this resource
Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI)
School of Biological Sciences
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800

Christchurch
New Zealand, 8140
Phone:+64 3 364 2500
Fax:+64 3 364 2590
Email:inbi@canterbury.ac.nz
Url:Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI)
Language(s)
  • English
Publication date
2012-04
Subject
Summary, abstract or table of contents
Abstract (Provided by Author)

Where there is a long history of use of a technology or where risk assessment relies upon sciences with firm theoretical grounding for prediction, there may be confidence that potential adverse effects of a product have been identified. However, in environmental risk assessment and management of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) uncertainties about the kind and severity of potential adverse effects can be high. In reviewing many other applications of monitoring in the medical and environmental sciences, we find that the appropriate use of a general surveillance (GS)-type approach to reducing uncertainties in the risk assessment as well as to identify unanticipated effects through monitoring of GMOs intended for release is warranted. GS-type approaches remain controversial for use in environmental risk assessment and management of GMOs even though they have been highly successful in other areas of biology. GS-approaches are grounded in comparative observational science and have much to offer the regulator wanting to safely release a GMO into the environment.

Introduction (from the article)

The international debate over how to apply monitoring for increasing certainty of the safety of released genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is frozen on two alternatives: case-specific monitoring (CSM) and general surveillance (GS). The experience level for applying GS for monitoring potential adverse environmental effects of GMOs is limited. Using recent examples from the research literature outside of GMO environmental risk assessment (ERA) and management, we find a place for combined and case-appropriate uses of both monitoring strategies.

Uncertainties about the kind and severity of potential adverse effects can be high in ERA. Monitoring of past and present status of indicators and identifying trends is critical for informing decisions on biological systems and for proving damage (CBD, 2012). GS-approaches are grounded in comparative observational science and have much to offer the regulator wanting to safely release a GMO into the environment.

Risk assessment and risk management uses the best available science - and the best available understanding of the science - to maximize the potential of technology through its safe use. Where there is a long history of use of a technology or where risk assessment relies upon sciences with firm theoretical grounding for prediction, there may be confidence that potential adverse effects of a product have been identified.

A quality ERA requires quality science (Traxler et al., 2001). Biology has its theories but biology is not yet a science based on theory, in the way for example that technical sciences and engineering and physics can be. Biology has no arm that can make prediction very far from empirical observation whether that be the observation and manipulation of living things (e.g., ecology) or computation of patterns in molecules (e.g., bioinformatics).

Within these limitations to predictive power, even the ability to completely describe the living things in an environment ( [Daniel, 2004] and [Rohwer, 2003]), how should a risk assessor and manager work?

Thematic areas
  • LMO use and transboundary movement
    • LMOs for introduction into the environment (Environmental releases)
    • Field trials
  • Scientific and technical issues
    • Risk assessment
    • Risk management
    • Environmental Monitoring
Background material to the “Guidance on risk assessment of living modified organisms”
Is this document is recommend as background material for the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms”
Yes
Section(s) of the “Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” this background material is relevant
Additional Information
Type of resource
  • Article (journal / magazine / newspaper)
Identifier
doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.03.011
Publisher and its location
Elsevier
Rights
Copyright © 2012, Elsevier
Format
HTML
Source
Environment International Volume 45, 15 September 2012, Pages 68-71
Keywords and any other relevant information
Keywords: General surveillance; Case specific monitoring; Uncertainty; Genetically modified organisms; Environmental risk assessment