The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has announced a preliminary program for a consultative workshop on draft guidance on the selection of comparators, or controls, for the risk assessment of genetically modified organism (GMO) plants. Scientists and risk assessors from European Union (EU) member states, industry and non-governmental organizations are expected to attend the March 31, 2011, workshop in Brussels.

According to EFSA’s Website, agenda items include (i) “Principles of risk assessment in the EU legal framework”; (ii) “GMO risk assessment: pros and cons of different approaches”; (iii) “Specific food and feed/molecular characterization and environmental needs for selection comparator”; and (iv) “Risk assessment when no comparator is available.”

Meanwhile, EU’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain has reportedly “returned no definitive opinion” on whether to approve or veto the use of three GMOs for maize and cotton. According to a news source, the inconclusive vote could thwart other forms of food biotechnology where consensus does not exist, such as growth hormones and nanotechnology. The committee’s non-decision will be forwarded to the Council of EU Farm Ministers, which has not supported increased use of GMOs in the past. If the council fails to reach an agreement, the European Commission will make the decision. See, February 15, 2011.