The OECD has been active in the field of biosafety since the early 80s, resulting 1986 in the landmark publication “Recombinant DNA Safety Considerations (the ‘Blue Book’).
Currently, the OECD’s Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology (WG-HROB) deals with the environmental safety of transgenic plants, animals, and micro-organisms. The work aims to ensure that the types of elements used in biosafety assessment, as well as the methods to collect such information, are as similar as possible among countries. The WG-HROB participants are mainly officials responsible for the environmental risk/safety assessment of products derived from modern biotechnology. Observer delegations and invited experts collaborate actively.
The publication of Consensus/Guidance Documents remains a major output of the programme. They constitute a set of practical tools for regulators and biosafety assessors dealing with new transgenic organisms, with respect to environmental safety. To date, over 50 Consensus Documents have been published. They address a range of subjects including the biology of crops, the biology of trees, the biology of micro-organisms, as well as selected traits that have been introduced in plants. These documents also deal with key issues in the context of environmental risk assessment, including low level presence of transgenic plants in conventional seed and commodities. These documents are available through the OECD website (www.oecd.org/biotrack).
The Report of the OECD Workshop on Environmental Risk Assessment of Products derived from New Plant Breeding Techniques was published in January 2016.
The WG-HROB continues to work on consensus documents for plants, animals and micro-organisms, key issues in the context of environmental risk assessment: Environmental considerations for risk/safety assessment for the the release of transgenic plants.
More information on these and related OECD activities can be found on: www.oecd.org/biotrack.
(*) The BioTrack Online information system is a mechanism by which the Working Group on Harmonisation in Biotechnology and the Task Force for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds make publicly available the outputs of their work, especially their Consensus/Guidance Documents described in sections above. BioTrack Online offers also a public access to the “Product Database”. This database allows regulatory officials to share basic information on transgenic products derived from the use of modern biotechnology (mainly crop plants) and approved for commercial application in terms of food, feed or environmental safety.