The introduction of these new molecular technologies initiated an international discussion on the safety in biotechnology. In 1974 one of the pioneers of this new technology, Paul Berg, expressed his view on the potential risks of recombinant DNA applications in the famous 'Berg letter', leading to a self-imposed moratorium on certain experiments. Following the Berg letter and the Asilomar convention, much international attention has been given to the question of safety in biotechnology. This attention resulted in hundreds of documents, research programmes, guidelines and regulations. This resulted, among others, in two EC Directives on genetically modified organisms: the EC Directive 90/219/EEC on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms, and Directive 90/220/EEC on the release of genetically modified organisms. These directives lay down a system for harmonization of risk assessment and risk management with regard to the safety for human health and the environment.