Applying a weed risk assessment approach to GM crops.
Current approaches to environmental risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) plants are modelled on chemical risk assessment methods, which have a strong focus on toxicity. There are additional types of harms posed by plants that have been extensively studied by weed scientists and incorporated into weed risk assessment methods. Weed risk assessment uses robust, validated methods that are widely applied to regulatory decision-making about potentially problematic plants. They are designed to encompass a broad variety of plant forms and traits in different environments, and can provide reliable conclusions even with limited data. The knowledge and experience that underpin weed risk assessment can be harnessed for environmental risk assessment of GM plants. A case study illustrates the application of the Australian post-border weed risk assessment approach to a representative GM plant. This approach is a valuable tool to identify potential risks from GM plants.