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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) - Introduction

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms, such as plants, animals and microorganisms whose genetic characteristics have been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural
recombination. Food and feed which contain, consist of or are produced from GMOs are called genetically modified (GM) food or feed.

EU legislation on GMOs has been in place since the early 1990s and aims to ensure that GMOs and GMO-derived products that are produced or marketed within the EU meet the highest safety standards whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is the competent authority for the implementation of legislation governing GM food while the Department of Health (DoH) is responsible for policy matters. As competent authority, the FSAI ensures that only EU-authorised GM foods are allowed on the market and that they are labelled appropriately.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government along with the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) is responsible for the environmental aspects of GM technology including contained use, crop trials and the placing on the market of GM crops for general cultivation purposes. The seed certification division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) works with the EPA in respect of GM seed regulation, while the animal feed section of DAFM regulates the importation and use of GM feed. The use of GMOs in medicines and pharmaceuticals is the responsibility of the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

The European Commission website provides information on all aspects of GMOs, their use and regulation in food and feed:
http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm
 

Last reviewed: 19/8/2014

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