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Explanatory Booklet on GM Organisms Published


The Ministry of the Environment published a booklet titled “How to Assess the Impact of GMOs on People and Nature” concerning the risk analysis of genetically modified organisms (GMO). The 24-page booklet published in Estonian and Russian gives an overview of assessing the risks related to GMOs and different stages of risk analysis and provides some examples of assessment.

Before the use of a GMO can be accepted, a detailed risk analysis has to be made, determining all possible risks, the probability of risk occurrence and the consequences of adopting the GMO. Each GMO is unique. Therefore, each risk assessment is also unique and the result of assessment is different for every GMO. There is no such thing as a common, uniform risk assessment proving the harmfulness or harmlessness of GMOs.

Risk analysis enables to systematically collect and assess data that will later serve as a basis for deciding whether the use of a GMO is permitted or prohibited. Firstly, the threats possibly arising from the use of a specific GMO are assessed in the course of risk analysis and then the probability and possibility of occurrence of such threats is determined. The product of these two components gives an answer to the risk level and possible consequences of allowing the use of the GMO. More detailed information about this process is provided in the booklet.

The booklet was compiled by Dr Liina Eek, former Chairman of the Gene Technology Committee, Mr Erkki Truve, Gene Technology Professor of the Tallinn Technical University and Dr Mati Koppel, Director of Jõgeva Plant Breeding Institute. The entire circulation of 3000 copies is printed on recycled paper.

The booklet “How to Assess the Impact of GMOs on People and Nature” will be distributed to inspectorates, services, research establishments, governmental authorities, libraries and other interested parties. Both the Estonian and the Russian version of the publication can also be seen on the homepage of the Ministry of the Environment.



In Estonia, three ministries are responsible for issues pertaining to GMOs: the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

* The sphere of responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment includes the assessment of environmental risks (and human impacts) arising from GMOs marketed and released into the environment and release into the environment and onto the market of new GMOs (Release into the Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms Act).

* The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the use and handling of genetically modified food (Food Act), genetically modified feedingstuffs (Feedingstuffs Act) and the use of genetically modified experimental animals (Animal Protection Act). The Ministry is also liable for determining the rules for coexistence of ordinary and genetically modified cultures.

* The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMM) (Contained Use of Genetically Modified Micro-Organisms Act). 

Further information:
Lilika Käis
Chief Specialist of the Nature Conservation Department, Ministry of the Environment

Phone (+372) 626 2877

Information on booklet distribution:
Kersti Kikkas
Chief Information Specialist of the Environmental Information Centre,
Ministry of the Environment
Phone (+372) 626 0705

Monika Kopti
Press Representative of the Ministry of the Environment
Phone (+372) 626 2993; (+372) 521 2602