Biological Hazards

It is unlikely that microorganisms in fertilising material will affect health or biodiversity


Report no: 2017: 16

Published: 29.06.2017

Key message:

It is unlikely that the use of microorganisms in fertilising material will adversely affect human health, animals, plants or biodiversity. The four genera of microorganisms assessed are Azospirillum, Rhizobium, Mycorrhiza and Azotobacter.

This is the conclusion of a risk assessment conducted by the Scientific Committee on Food Safety (VKM) for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency.

New regulations on fertilising material

By 2016, the EU Commission proposed new regulations for fertilisers and soil improvers. The regulation includes product rules for a wide range of organic and inorganic products. Microbial biostimulants is one of the categories of products included.

Biostimulants are defined as fertilising materials that affect nutrient processes independently of the product's own nutrient content and with the purpose of improving nutrient utilisation, tolerance for abiotic stress or quality of the crop.

VKM was asked to assess whether the supply of the current microorganisms may have adverse effects on human, animal or plant health, biodiversity and dispersal, and on the quality of agricultural land and soil environment.

Health risks

Based on a literature review, VKM has found no indications of specific diseases in humans, plants or animals induced by the defined microorganisms.

Environmental risks

According to VKM's assessment, the risks associated with applied non-pathogenic microorganisms are very low. Applied microorganisms have a small chance to establish in soil, and less chance to affect the biodiversity and soil functioning.

The panel on Biological Hazards of the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has conducted this opinion.


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