Most OECD countries and many non-members have a system for the safety assessment and regulation of “novel” foods and feeds. These refer to foods and feeds derived from products of modern biotechnology (e.g. from transgenic crops). The OECD work programme aims to promote international harmonisation in the risk/safety assessement of novel foods and feeds. A number of non-OECD member economies and observer organisations are partners in this work.
Biotechnology products, particularly commodities from new crop varieties, are increasingly moving into global trade. In this context, international harmonisation of regulatory assessment of novel foods and feeds will ensure the protection of human and animal health.
The major outputs of the programme are Consensus Documents that provide information on critical parameters of food/feed safety and nutrition. The documents gather, for each crop under consideration, common scientific elements on key nutrients, anti-nutrients, toxicants and allergens. A comparative approach focusing on similarities and differences between the novel food/feed and its conventional counterpart aids in the identification of potential safety and nutritional assessment.
Another part of the programme is its outreach activity, including the development of BioTrack Online for disseminating the information worldwide and promoting harmonised biosafety frameworks. In addition to the consensus documents, Biotrack provides links to regulatory contacts in OECD countries, as well as to information on products of modern biotechnology which have been released to the environment.
The programme aims to encourage information sharing, promote harmonised practices and common frameworks in safety assessment and regulation, and prevent duplication of efforts among countries. The outputs are intended to be used by governments (risk and safety assessors, regulators), industry (novel food/feed developers and producers), other stakeholders, as well as the wider scientific community.