Environmental Releases of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
The Competent Authority (CA) of the Netherlands for the implementation of EC Directive 90/220/EEC on the release into the environment of genetically modified organisms is the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. The official mandated by the Minister for the implementation of the Directive is located at the Directorate General for Environmental Protection, Directorate for Chemicals, Safety and Radiation Protection.
The Minister decides on applications for an authorisation for an environmental release of a genetically modified organism in agreement with the Minister of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries in so far as it concerns aspects of environmental protection for which this Minister is responsible. There may also be consultation with other Ministers.
Contained Use of Genetically Modified Organisms
The Competent Authority (CA) of the Netherlands for the implementation of EC Directive 90/119/EEC (on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms) is the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. The official mandated by the Minister for the implementation of the Directive is located at the Directorate General for Environmental Protection, Directorate for Chemicals, Safety and Radiation Protection.
On the basis of the Environmental Protection Act, a permit from the local authorities is required for installations (such as laboratories) where activities with contained uses of GMOs are carried out. Individual activities involving contained use of GMOs have to be notified to the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.
The Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and the State Secretary for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries have commissioned the Health Council of the Netherlands to take responsibility for safety assessment of novel food for a period of several years during the first phase of implementation of the European Regulation 258/97.
There is an independent technical/scientific advisory committee in the Netherlands, named the COGEM. The members of this committee are appointed by the CA.
In addition to its task of providing advice on safety issues, the COGEM has also been given the task of alerting the relevant authorities when there are ethical or social aspects, linked to specific activities involving genetically modified organisms, which the COGEM considers to be of importance. Its responsibilities do not include giving advice on such ethical or social aspects, but merely alerting that they may arise. The COGEM may do so on request or on its own initiative. The COGEM consists of scientists, all assigned on the basis of their expertise. The Advisory Committee has appointed eight subcommittees:
- Large scale activities
- Education and Information
- Ethical and Social Aspects
External experts can participate in these committees and provide supplementary expertise.
The President of the Health Council of the Netherlands has created a Committee on the Safety assessment of Novel Foods (VNV) to advise the minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Minister of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries on behalf of the Council. Based on the scientific state of the art, the Committee has to decide whether the information provided by the manufacturer is accurate and complete and whether the manufacturers conclusions are sound. The Committee draws up a report (complying with the European Recommendation EC97a, part III) for the minister. The minister formulates the Netherlands' opinion regarding the foodstuff in question, which is discussed at European level.
Evaluation of the Netherlands' Regulatory Framework for GMOs
Information Resources: OECD BioTrack