The International Society for Biosafety Research (ISBR) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) are pleased to announce that the City of Guadalajara, México will be hosting the 14th International Symposium on the Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (ISBGMO) from the 4th to the 8th of June 2017. The conference will be held at the Fiesta Americana (Minerva) Hotel, Guadalajara.

To learn more please visit ISBGMO14's website!                                                                                   
News from Around the Globe 

ICGEB Biosafety Group: Assisting the Caribbean Regional Biosafety project

The ICGEB Biosafety Group is currently providing technical assistance under a series of sub-contracts with the  University of West Indies (UWI), the Executing Agency of the current  UNEP-GEF funded Biosafety Regional Project for Implementing National Biosafety Frameworks in the Caribbean Sub-region. The objective of the Regional Project is to implement effective, operable, transparent and sustainable National Biosafety Frameworks which cater to national and regional needs, deliver global benefits and are compliant with the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in 12 Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and the Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Biosafety Group is providing assistance to help draft both biosafety legislation and the associated implementing regulations. This is in addition to developing technical guidelines, administrative procedures, and public communication texts and scripts, along with training the key in-country personnel (or expected to be) involved. 

To date, the Biosafety Group has completed the following activities:
  • Three UWI/ICGEB Biosafety Training Workshops on Risk Analysis, held in Bridgetown, Barbados (14–18 March 2016), Castries, Saint Lucia (08–12 February 2016), and Nassau, The Bahamas (14-18 September 2015)
  • A Communication Strategy for the Caribbean, with examples of supporting radio spots, brochures and fact sheets
  • In-country missions and Skype sessions with a legal expert, to provide technical support and coaching to project countries in the process of developing their own legal and administrative systems
  • The production of guidelines which enable the project countries to operationalise their administrative systems
  • A “best-fit” general model of an administrative system for managing LMOs, LMO-FFPs and contained use
  • A UWI/ICGEB Workshop on Biosafety Regulations and Administrative Systems, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (18-22 May 2015)
  • A UWI/ICGEB Workshop on Biosafety Legislation, held in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago (11-15 May 2015)

Recent news on science updates from around the world. Do you have information to s hare? Please contact ISBR at

Crop Biotech Update: GM Crops Petition

Farmer s hand watering a young plant in sunshine
Those of you that receive the Crop Biotech Updates newsletter will have seen that 110 Nobel Laureates have signed a petition asking Greenpeace to stop opposing GM crops. If you would like to support this initiative, you can do so by following this link.

EuropaBio Workshop: Back to Basics - Risk Assessment Principles for GM Plants

On the 14th and 15th of June 2016 EuropaBio organized a workshop titled: “Back to basics: risk assessment principles for GM plants”. The objective of this workshop was to re-visit the way in which food and feed risk assessments are conducted in the EU and discuss whether these risk assessments are fit for purpose. Over 90 international participants registered for the workshop representing industry, academia, EFSA, the European Commission (EC) and EU Member States (MS).The workshop was divided in five sections:

               1. Risk assessment principles for GM plants.

               2. Weight of evidence. Case study: Allergenicity.

               3. Risk vs Hazard and Exposure. Case study: protein safety.

               4. Assessing unintended effects. Case study: Risk assessment of GM plants with stacked traits.

               5. Conclusions of the workshop.

There were presentations from industry, the EFSA GMO Unit, International scientists and some Member States representatives. A panel discussion took place at the end of each session so attendees could pose questions to the speakers and engage in discussion. 

The workshop provided a platform to discuss risk assessment issues for food and feed import applications in the EU. The need to consider exposure and hazard in any risk assessment and to make a clear differentiation between “nice to know” and “need to know” information for fit for purpose risk assessments were highlighted. The participants seemed to agree that although current EU guidelines appear to follow the international CODEX principles, they contain additional requirements and a high prescription on how the data must be generated. It would therefore appear that the knowledge gathered on risk assessment of GM foods during the last 20 years, is not reflected in current EU and data requirements are increasing. These guidelines are now legally binding and restrict the case-by-case approach.

Publications Update

Regulatory framework for gene editing and other new breeding techniques (NBTs) in Argentina.

"New Breeding Techniques" (NBTs) are a group of recent innovations in plant breeding using molecular biology tools. It is becoming evident that NBTs can introduce advantageous traits for agriculture that could be commercially available very soon. However, there is still a need of clarifying its regulatory status, particularly in regards to worldwide regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). This article reviews the meaning of the NBTs concept, performs an overall regulatory analysis of these technologies and reports the first regulation in the world that is applied to these technologies, which was issued by the Argentine Government.

Whelan AI 1, 2 Lema MA 1, 2 GM Crops Food.  2015 Oct 2;6(4):253-65. dos  10.1080/21645698.2015.1114698.
The pre-market environmental risk assessment (ERA) of regulated products such as genetically modified organisms, plant protection products and feed additives is an important process to safeguard the desired level of protection of the environment and biodiversity. ERA evaluates the potential adverse effects on the environment of certain actions, and is an important analytical scientific tool to support regulatory decision-making. Significant advances have been made in the field in recent years. Potential avenues to the further advancement of ERA of regulated products under EFSA's remit were discussed during the breakout session ‘Advancing environmental risk assessment’ held at the EFSA 2nd Scientific Conference ‘Shaping the Future of Food Safety, Together’ (Milan, Italy, 14–16 October 2015). 

Yann Devos1, Helmut Gaugitsch2,  Alan J. Gray3, Lorraine Maltby4, Jock Martin5, Jeffery S. Pettis6, Jörg Romeis7, Agnès Rortais1, Reinhilde Schoonjans1, Joe Smith8, Franz Streissl1 and Glenn W. Suter II9 Version of Record online: 30 JUN 2016 DOI: 10.2903/j.efsa.2016.s0508

Advancing environmental risk assessment of regulated products under EFSA's remit

Farmer s hand watering a young plant in sunshine
Member News

Silvia Fernandez 
Many of you may have heard the news that sadly in March 2016 we lost our colleague and dear friend Silvia Fernandez. She lost a brave battle against cancer. Silvia was an entomologist that while working at Monsanto helped in the development of tests for NTOs to support environmental risk assessments. She also had extensive expertise in insect resistance management and regulatory affairs. Through these efforts, she made great contributions to biosafety research. Silvia will be remembered as a solid scientist of great integrity, a valued colleague and a lovely person. We were very fortunate to have known Silvia and will miss her kind and warm personality and her clever and useful inputs. She will never be forgotten. 

Joachim Schiemann
In honor of Dr. Joachim Schliemann, ISBR President from 2004 to 2008, a retirement event was held  at the Scientific Colloquium Agricultural biotechnology - risk/safety assessment, impact assessment and importance for a bio-based economy, hosted by the Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants (JKI) in the UNESCO world heritage town of Quedlinburg, Germany, on June 22nd-24th. We congratulate Dr. Schliemann on his retirement and thank him for his service to ISBR. 

We want to hear from you! If you have news, achievements, awards, or events, to share with your fellow ISBR Members, please send these updates to

Call for Participation
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