International group to focus on GM crops, identity theft and other risks

An international "think tank" is to be established to look at emerging risks for insurers.

The think tank will be set up jointly by the International Cooperative & Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and the Centre Européen de Prévention des Risques.

The new body, which will comprise representatives from mutual insurers, will consider the future impact of emerging risks such as genetically modified foods, nanotechnology, dentity theft and computer-generated forgeries.

ICMIF chief executive Hans Dahlberg said an important focus for the new think tank would be to encourage research in order to develop solutions to emerging risks at a global level.

He said that one of the major areas of emerging risk involved the development of computer technology. As technology allowed increasing numbers of financial transactions to be performed online, the prominence of financial risks had increased.

Dahlberg said that genetically modified (GM) crops, some of which had recently been approved in the UK, were an example of an emerging risk where the long-term effects were unknown.

"The UK government recently signalled approval for the growing of specific GM crops, conditional on any future losses resulting from this action being underwritten by the bio-chemical industry," Dahlberg said. "This risk will ultimately be borne by the insurers, who have no claims experience to draw on or to determine how this cover can be underwritten."