Alexander J. Stein and Emilio Rodríguez-Cerezo
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS)

This study addresses a new issue in the commercialization of GM crops, namely the occurrence of traces—or “low-level presence” (LLP)—of nationally unapproved GM material in crop imports. The commercialization of GM crops is a regulated activity, and countries have different authorization procedures. Hence, new GM crops are not approved simultaneously. This “asynchronous approval” (AA), in combination with a “zero-tolerance” policy towards LLP, is of growing concern for its potential economic impact on international trade. To forecast the future evolution of this issue, we compiled a global pipeline of GM crops that may be commercialized by 2015. This pipeline is analyzed by crop and likely LLP scenarios are discussed. While currently there are about 30 commercial GM crops with different transgenic events worldwide, it is expected that by 2015 there will be more than 120. Given that problems of LLP have already occurred with the 30 current events, these issues are likely to intensify when more events become available in more countries.

Key words: R&D pipeline, GM crops, regulation, authorization, asynchronous approval, low-level presence, zero tolerance, supply chain, international trade, European Union.