ESGEMO Environmental, Societal and Health Effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (2004-2007)


The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs, organisms modified with gene technology) is a very topical issue which has given rise to a lively public debate in many European countries and internationally. Public concerns relate to the safety and sustainability of the new technologies as well as to ethical questions related to them. Therefore, questions concerning the ecological, health and societal effects of GMOs needed to be addressed in a scientifically sound manner. A high level of expertise and information on the impacts of GMOs is crucial for their safe use and public acceptance.


The objectives of the ESGEMO Programme were to create new knowledge on environmental and health effects and potential risks of GMOs used in agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, and environmental applications, particularly in boreal conditions; basic knowledge on related ecology and population genetics is emphasised develop novel tools for research and assessment of the potential impacts of GMOs on nature and its complex processes, and evaluate the socio-economic and technological impacts of the use of GMOs, including ethical considerations and public acceptance of novel biotechnology.

Research themes

  • Ecological and health impacts of the use of GMOs
  • Gene flows and interactions
  • Ethical and socio-economic aspects connected with the development and application of GMOs in nature
  • Risk assessment and management of GMOs


The ESGEMO Programme was carried out jointly by the Academy of Finland (Research Councils for Biosciences and Environment, Culture and Society, Health, and Natural Sciences and Engineering), the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment. The Academy's Board allocated EUR 3.3 million to the Programme.

Programme memorandum

ESGEMO Programme Memorandum.pdf

Evaluation 3/08_ESGEMO evaluation report.pdf


The research programme was coordinated by programme manager Sirpa Huuskonen, University of Helsinki.

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