Project

MARLON - Monitoring of Animals for Feed-related Risks in the Long Term

Marlon project aims to create an inventory of which epidemiological and monitoring initiatives exist, both within and outside the EU, which could provide useful data for the purpose of monitoring for health impacts of animal feeds, in particular those containing GM ingredients, on livestock animals. It will also collate, in a systematized manner, information on the factors that have to be considered when developing an epidemiological model specifically geared towards this purpose.

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Before genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be brought to the market in the European Union (EU), they need to undergo a rigorous pre-market assessment as part of the approval procedures for their environmental release and marketing as food or feed under EU regulations. Besides the pre-market safety assessment, GMOs can also be subject to additional case specific post-marketing requirements based on risks identified during the pre-market assessment.

The case-specific post-market monitoring of genetically modified (GM) crops has, so far in practice, mainly focused on environmental monitoring of pest insect resistance development and impacts on non-target organisms in insect-resistant crops, for which the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) GMO Panel is currently developing extensive and detailed guidance. The pre-market safety assessments of GMO by the EFSA GMO Panel have thus far not identified any animal-feed-related safety risks. A few anecdotal accounts on possible impacts of GM crop consumption on domestic animals have appeared in the media but could not be confirmed.

Despite the abovementioned regulatory requirement for carrying out a post-market monitoring study on GM animal feeds in case the pre-market assessment has identified potential risks, there appears to be a lack in scientific studies into the potential linkage of whole GM or conventional feeds with the health of livestock in a way that could be applicable for this goal. 

Aim

Marlon project aims to create an inventory of which epidemiological and monitoring initiatives exist, both within and outside the EU, which could provide useful data for the purpose of monitoring for health impacts of animal feeds, in particular those containing GM ingredients, on livestock animals. It will also collate, in a systematized manner, information on the factors that have to be considered when developing an epidemiological model specifically geared towards this purpose. These factors include:

  • the possibility to determine the exposure of animals to GM feed ingredients;
  • the health indicators that have to be considered for particular cases of health impacts identified during pre-market risk assessment of the GMOs;
  • the characteristics of the animal feed and livestock production chains. Marlon also will develop an epidemiological model specifically geared towards establishing links between measured health effects in livestock and their intake of GM ingredients from animal feed. 

Objectives

MARLON strategic objective will be achieved through four integrated work packages with the following specific objectives:

  • To identify existing studies, data, initiatives, and networks, on epidemiology of health impacts of both GM and non-GM feeds in livestock animals.
  • To investigate GM animal feed exposure measurement possibilities; To define specific sensitive health indicators for the purpose of monitoring of four particular types of potential health effects.
  • To survey livestock production chains for the context in which an epidemiological model has to be applied.
  • To develop a conceptual epidemiological model to link exposure of an animal to GM ingredients including the identification and analysis of possible risk pathways.
  • To establish a database with data for monitoring possible health impacts of GM crops, or that of crops /feeds in more general terms, on the health of livestock animals consuming these crops / feeds.
  • To perform a feasibility study for the use of the model in the EU.
  • To formulate and present recommendations to European policy makers, risk managers, risk assessors, biotech company regulatory officials, and veterinary professionals.
  • To provide training related to the use and translation of the results of the model developed.

Expected Results

It is expected that MARLON will provide the following results:

  • A new, validated open-source/open-access tool for epidemiological studies linking GMO feed consumption with health effects, to support post-market monitoring.
  • A database with information for monitoring possible health impacts of GM crops, or that of crops /feeds in more general terms, on the health of livestock animals consuming these crops / feeds.
  • Recommendations, training and guidelines related to the use of the tool developed as well as necessary actions for further improvement of post-market monitoring.

Overall, the impact of these results will:

  • Improve assurance of safety and quality of animal feeds.
  • Contribute to a harmonized approach towards post-market monitoring of the health impacts of GM animal feeds.
  • Promote a greater insight into the occurrence of certain health and welfare impacts related to feed consumption.