Where does the name Co-Extra come from?

Co-Extra is an abbreviated contraction of the words co-existence and traceability. Co-Extra’s goal is to secure co-existence and traceability for GM and non-GM goods throughout diverse food and feed supply chains.

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What is meant by co-existence?

In the context of GMOs, co-existence means using cropping systems with and without GMOs in parallel. For co-existence to be assured, the separation and the identity of the respective food and feed products must be maintained. The goal of co-existence is to allow all farmers to choose whether or not to grow GMOs and to let consumers exert market pressure by accepting or rejecting GM foods when making purchasing decisions.


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What is meant by traceability?

Traceability is a requirement now imposed upon all types of food by EU regulation. Food producers and processors need to know where their goods come from and where they’re going. The added challenges posed by traceability for GM foods and feeds are that it is so difficult to tell the difference between GMOs and non-GM goods, and that there is such a low threshold for accidental mixing.


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The parallel cultivation of GM plants and conventional plants has begun years ago. Isn’t Co-Extra a little late?

Growing authorised GMOs, doing research on co-existence, and deciding on co-existence regulations actually function well in parallel. Because safety concerns are already addressed at the approval level, it is not considered dangerous to learn about co-existence and traceability as we go. Regulations on co-existence have been in flux ever since GMOs entered the market. They adapt to reflect shifts in demands from citizens and the ever-increasing complexity of GMO dynamics worldwide. The latest legislation on GM plants in the EU, with a new, process oriented labelling basis, came into effect only in 2003. When these regulations were implemented, the science required to realise them lagged behind. Co-Extra is doing the research needed to secure a process-based labelling system and freedom of choice according to recently implemented GMO regulations.


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Does the information on the Co-Extra website represent the opinions of the EU?

The Co-Extra website is written by independent science journalists who are part of the Co-Extra website editorial board. The writers exercise journalistic freedom to best explain Co-Extra research projects to the general public. Statements on this website are not to be interpreted as statements of the EU or of any of its bodies.


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Doesn’t global trade require global coexistence standards? What is Co-Extra doing about this?

Governments on six continents have called for labelling and freedom of choice for GM foods. Therefore there is a concerted worldwide effort to develop harmonised, cross-border policies for trade with GMOs. A good example of this is the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which is set to require all shipments of agricultural products to be accompanied by documentation regarding their GMO status by 2012. Co-Extra is conducting intensive research to determine planes for harmonisation with non-EU countries and to set up international conduits for exchanging new information on co-existence and traceability.


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I have another question. Where can I get an answer?

Any questions including those related to a specific research project should be directed toward the Co-Extra website editorial board: info@coextra.eu.


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