General principles for risk assessment of living modified organisms: Lessons from chemical risk assessment

Hill, RAS, C.,  Environ. Biosafety Res,  2:81-88. 2003.

Modern biotechnology has led to the development and use of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) for agriculture and other purposes. Regulators at the national level are increasingly depending on risk assessment as a tool for assessing potential adverse effects of LMOs on the environment and human health. In addition, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement expected to enter into force in the near future, requires risk assessment as the basis for decision-making regarding import of some LMOs. While LMO risk assessment is relatively new, there are other risk assessment disciplines which have developed over longer time periods. The field of assessment of the environmental and human health risks of chemicals is particularly well developed, and is similar in application to LMO risk assessment. This paper aims to draw lessons for LMO risk assessment from the vast experience with chemical risk assessment. Seven general principles are outlined which should serve as a useful checklist to guide assessments of risks posed by LMOs.