All applicants for permission to cultivate genetically modified (GM) crops must provide certain information, including details about potential adverse effects of the GM crop on organisms that are not intended to be affected by the expression product of the inserted gene, called ‘non-target organisms’.
COGEM is of the opinion that testing on non-target organisms is necessary only in those cases in which it is likely that the expression product of the transgene could lead to an adverse effect on non-target organisms.
Should tests on non-target organisms be considered necessary, COGEM recommends the following procedure for selecting relevant non-target arthropods.
For each individual crop an ecological food web should be compiled that consists of arthropods found in and near the crop and which are not target organisms. COGEM has had crop-specific ecological food webs drawn up for oilseed rape, maize and potato for North-West European conditions. From these lists of non-target arthropods, arthropod species should then be selected that meet one or more of the following criteria (see Annex 1): 1) sensitive to or exposed to high concentrations of the compound produced by the inserted gene, 2) of ecological or economic importance, or 3) rare or in danger of extinction. The selected arthropods must also represent a larger group, commercially available or easy to rear, and where possible relevant for other crops and other geographical areas within Europe. If it is likely that non-target arthropods could be adversely affected by the GM crop, a final group of from four to six arthropods should be selected for testing per crop/gene combination.