for field releases with transgenic plants
have been drafted for experimental releases of transgenic sugar beet, Brassica (oilseed rape, Indian mustard)
and chicory (see table). In the future, protocols may be drafted for other
crops (e.g. maize and potato) depending on their envisaged need.
Objectives of the protocols
The protocols for experimental releases of genetically modified crops provide instructions on how to conduct a field trial from sowing to harvest and guidance for the follow-up of the parcels after harvest. Each field trial with transgenic crops needs to be carried out in conformity with the provisions of the protocol and on a case-by-case basis take additional specific requirements into account.
In summary the protocols prescribe that the notifier should (1) communicate on the sites of release and different operations concerning sowing, harvest, transport and analysis, and (2) keep a logbook indicating actions taken during release (e.g. that isolation distance and/or isolation borders have been respected) and after harvest (e.g. destruction of harvest and monitoring for volunteers). The actions taken should be reported every year (after harvest) to the competent authority. A final report should be submitted at the end of the trial period.
The drafting of the protocols for field releases has been initiated in 1999 under the coordination of the relevant Belgian competent authority. The work is performed by the Division of Biosafety and Biotechnology (SBB), with the assistance of external experts. The final evaluation and approval of the protocols is carried out by the Biosafety Advisory Council.
In 2002, the
existing protocol for growing genetically
modified Brassica has been updated with information regarding specific containment
measures towards organic and conventional farmers (co-existence),
nature reserves and bees and produced honey. To this end, the SBB established a Working Group gathering
gathering scientists and stakeholders.