Based on our presentation on behalf of IFPRI at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Technical Conference on the Low Levels of Genetically Modified Crops in International Food and Feed Trade held March 20-21, 2014 in Rome, Italy and based on responses from different stakeholders, we felt necessary to share not only the presentation but also our comments to the slides and additional information about the presentation.
I will focus my conversation on one source of Low Level Presence (LLPs) and that is asynchronous approvals where at least one cultivating country authorizes a GM crop while other countries have not approved for importation. This source of LLPs has time and geographic dimensions.
I will not focus much on asymmetry. Asymmetric approvals are related to developers’ regulatory strategies and the regulatory/policy environment in the countries where a GM crop may be potentially released.
We need to clearly separate Low Level Presence (LLP) from Adventitious Presence (AP). AP occurs when traces of a low level of unintended material appear in seed, grain, or feed and food products, where the unintended material has not been approved anywhere for commercial release. Adventitious Presence is a failure of the biosafety management processes. It does not necessarily mean that it is an objective safety concern, the issue may be that the regulatory system does not have sufficient knowledge to make a determination about the safety of the product. Adventitious Presence need to be minimized or eliminated in all situations.
Certainly, these concepts are not rigid and may change over time.