Coreper issues for discussion on ways to ensure the Coexistence of Genetically Modified Crops with Conventional and Organic Farming

September 29, 2003

Brussels, 26 Sep 2003

Full text of Document 12922/03
Suite of documents 12922/03

No. prev. doc.: 12553/03
Subject: Commission Recommendation of 23 July 2003 on guidelines for the development of national strategies and best practices to ensure the coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming

1. On 23 July 2003, under Article 211 of the EC Treaty, which enables the Commission to issue recommendations in order to ensure the proper functioning and development of the common market, the Commission adopted the above Recommendation 1. This concerns the potential economic loss and the impact of the admixture of genetically modified and non-genetically modified crops, and the most appropriate management measures that can be taken to minimise admixture.

2. Having considered the content of the Recommendation, Coreper selected four distinctly political issues on which to focus the substantive discussion of crop coexistence that the Agriculture and Fisheries Council has agreed to hold at its September 2003 meeting.

3. The four issues put forward for Ministers to discuss are as follows:

(a) The European Parliament and the Council have agreed that Member States may take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products (subsidiarity 2). Moreover, they invited the Commission to bring forward, as soon as possible, any further proposal deemed necessary. Do you consider it appropriate that Member States' choice of the scale of measures ensuring coexistence may include particular geographical areas and, in that case, the definition of GMO-free zones?

(b) Should the tolerance thresholds for the adventitious presence of GMOs in seeds, currently under discussion, be considered in the light of the coexistence debate?

(c) Should there be a tolerance for the adventitious presence of GMOs in organic farming? Should specific thresholds be fixed?

(d) Do you consider it necessary to establish Community-wide rules relating to liability in the event of contamination of conventional and organic crops by genetically modified crops?

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