Environmental Risk Assessment of GE Plants Under Low-Exposure Conditions

Transgenic Res. 2014 Dec;23(6):971-83. doi: 10.1007/s11248-013-9762-z. Epub 2013 Nov 1.


The requirement for environmental risk assessment (ERA) of genetically engineered (GE) plants prior to large scale or commercial introduction into the environment is well established in national laws and regulations, as well as in international agreements. Since the first introductions of GE plants in commercial agriculture in the 1990s, a nearly universal paradigm has emerged for conducting these assessments based on a few guiding principles. These include the concept of case-by-case assessment, the use of comparative assessments, and a focus of the ERA on characteristics of the plant, the introduced trait, and the receiving environment as well as the intended use. In practice, however, ERAs for GE plants have frequently focused on achieving highly detailed characterizations of potential hazards at the expense of consideration of the relevant levels of exposure. This emphasis on exhaustive hazard characterization can lead to great difficulties when applied to ERA for GE plants under low-exposure conditions. This paper presents some relevant considerations for conducting an ERA for a GE plant in a low-exposure scenario in the context of the generalized ERA paradigm, building on discussions and case studies presented during a session at ISBGMO 12.

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural*
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Monitoring / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / adverse effects*
  • Policy Making*
  • Risk Assessment / methods*