Genetic engineering technology has been widely used in plants and micro-organisms, but its potential for use in animals is still undergoing research. Currently, in the European Union, the technology behind genetic engineering is very strictly controlled for both domestic and imported goods.
The Regulatory Framework in the European Union
A legal framework has been established by the EU which regulates genetically modified food, including the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. It is currently the job of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess any risks which genetically modified organisms could pose to both the health of humans and animals, as well as the potential impact they could have on the environment.
As things stand, no GM animals or derived products are available on the market within the European Union, nor have any applications been received. The rate at which science is advancing in this area, however, suggests that it won’t be long before applications start coming into the EU to allow genetically modified animals. EFSA has developed risk assessments which will look at all areas of safety to prepare for possible applications.
Labelling of GM food in the EU
Despite there currently being no GM products on the market within the European Union, the regulatory environment makes it clear that any future products will be required to be clearly labelled as genetically modified, ensuring that consumers and professionals will be able to make a fully informed choice when deciding what to buy. It will also be a requirement that the traceability of GM products on the market is ensured at all times.
The European Union has been considering the possible impacts of genetically modified animal products for a considerable period now, and this has allowed a comprehensive framework of regulations to be drawn up, before any applications to allow products on the market are submitted.