Brussels, 26 March 2002
The European consumer co-operatives' body, Euro Coop, has defended the European Commission's proposals on genetically modified food and animal feed, following criticism of the proposed measures as 'unworkable' and costly by some trade groups.
Euro Coop views the Commission's proposals of 25 July 2001 on authorisation, labelling and traceability as a 'significant step forward [that] must be improved, rather than undermined'. Criticism of the measures, voiced at recent hearings of the EP's Environment and agriculture committees, have not impacted on Euro Coop's position that all GM (genetically modified) foods should be subject to a rigorous approval process and that all GM derived foods and ingredients should be labelled.
The consumer organisation welcomes the Commission's plans to introduce an authorisation system addressing both genetically modified food and animal feed. It believes that that the proposed EU legislation will close a legal loophole that currently allows processed GM feed, such as maize gluten feed, to escape the required authorisation procedures for feedstuffs containing live genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
Euro Coop also welcomes the proposals on the labelling of GM food, especially the provisions for a close connection between labelling and traceability. Claiming that the existing European legislation on novel food and ingredients does not allow consumers to make an informed choice, Euro Coop endorses the Commission's proposal of the label, 'produced from GMOs'. It also agrees that all products produced with GM ingredients must be labelled as containing GMOs, even if the final product is similar to a product produced without GMOs, or if no trace of GM material can be detected in the final product.
On the accidental contamination of non-GM crops, Euro Coop endorses the one per cent threshold recommended by the Commission, but disagrees with the proposal that this should be applied to GMOs that have been positively assessed by scientific committees. Instead, the one per cent tolerance level should not apply until the Commission itself has approved the GMOs concerned. The expression 'adventitious (accidental) contamination' should also be defined.
While it welcomes the establishment of a traceability scheme, Euro Coop is concerned that the development of a number of diverse European traceability systems (for example, for beef products, GM foodstuffs, etc) would hamper the consistency and coherency of the EU legislation. It calls for the development of a single traceability system for all food products that would simplify the current situation and lead to better monitoring.
For further information, please consult the following web address: http://www.eurocoop.org