The Joint EPA ENCA Interest Group on Genetically Modified Organisms (IG GMO) promotes the exchange of information and experience on environmental risk assessment and monitoring of genetically modified organisms (GMO) between the Network of the Heads of Environmental Protection Agencies* (EPA) and The European Nature Conservation Agency Heads Network** (ENCA). The overall aim of the IG GMO mandate is to develop joint and consolidated views and positions of the EPA and ENCA networks in order to add additional emphasis to environmental aspects in the course of GMO approval procedures, environmental risk assessment (ERA) and environmental monitoring programmes.
The IG GMO is composed of members from environmental protection agencies and nature conservation agencies or institutions with competence and expertise in ERA and monitoring. Their participation is voluntary. Based on the group’s informal character and because it is not directly involved in approval procedures, the IG GMO is ideally suited to pinpoint and outline essential questions regarding the impacts of GMOs on the environment and interactions of GMOs with the environment. Furthermore, the IG GMO regularly addresses EU entities to voice its concerns regarding the impact of GMOs on the environment and urges discussions on the subject. Thus, the work of the group significantly contributes to placing a stronger emphasis on the environment in the approval processes of GMOs.
The EPA Network plenary endorsed the establishment of the joint EPA ENCA Interest Group on Genetically Modified Organisms (IG GMO) in Locarno (Switzerland in May 2009). The group held its first meeting in Bern (Switzerland) in September 2009. After the separation of the ENCA Network from the EPA Network, ENCA members joined the IG GMO; hence its current name “Joint EPA-ENCA Interest Group on Risk Assessment and Monitoring of GMOs” (IG GMO). Since 2010, the group has prepared several documents regarding environmental risk assessment and monitoring of GMOs, which were welcomed and supported by both EPA and ENCA Networks.
* The EPA Network is an informal grouping of the directors of environmental protection agencies (EPAs) and similar bodies across Europe.
** A network bringing together experience of nature conservation policy and implementation from across Europe and beyond.