Assessing Socioeconomic Impacts of GMOs – Issues to Consider for Policy Development
The study investigated the role of socioeconomic considerations in national GMO regulations and international law as well as the possibilities and limitations for establishing socioeconomic assessment at the EU level.
Federal Ministry for Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment & Water Management
Market authorisation in the EU of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and derived food and feed is essentially informed by a scientific risk assessment. There appears to be regulatory leeway to consider other “legitimate factors” beyond human health and environmental risks, though, these issues have not yet been addressed in the decision making process. In November 2008 the EU Council of Environment Ministers agreed to further explore the possibility to explicitly consider socioeconomic issues.
The possible assessment of socioeconomic impacts in the GMO decision making process is a new issue which has neither been explored in the scientific literature nor in policy documents. Thus, the project aimed at supporting policy development in this area in Austria by identifying and characterising key issues associated to the topic. The study investigated the role of socioeconomic considerations in national GMO regulations and international law as well as the possibilities and limitations for establishing socioeconomic assessment at the EU level. By employing and extending on concepts of risk governance the study identified and investigated possible ‘set screws’ in a socioeconomic assessment process and thereby highlighted the importance of an explicit and agreed ‘impact assessment policy’. As a particular challenge, socioeconomic impacts and the normative basis applied in the assessment process as well as derived criteria, are likely to be specific for geographical, socio-cultural and economic regions. This is illustrated by highlighting some specific characteristic of the Austrian context. Based on these investigations conclusions are drawn and recommendations for policy development in Austria are provided.
Executive Summary and Final Report: