Council - Parliament agreement in second reading: Transboundary movements of GMOs

June 9, 2003

Brussels, 06 Jun 2003

The Council and the European Parliament, in the framework of the co-decision procedure, have been able to reach agreement in second reading on the Regulation concerning the transboundary movements of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The agreement was endorsed by the Parliament on 4 June (majority of votes cast). The Council is expected to formally confirm the outcome at a forthcoming meeting (qualified majority voting procedure), most probably before the end of this month.

The proposal is designed to implement in the Community, part of the Cartagena Protocol on Bio- safety1. While existing Community legislation covers to a large extent imports and trade in GMOs, the proposal is intended to fulfil the requirements under the Protocol on exporters by establishing a common system of notification and information for transboundary movements of GMOs. In June 2000 the Community decided to become a Party to the Protocol.

The following main issues were settled between the two institutions:

1- Prior consent for import: exporters should await the prior written express consent of the Party or non-Party of import2 before proceeding with the first transboundary movement of a GMO intended for deliberate release into the environment;

2- Pharmaceuticals: pharmaceutical products for humans that are addressed by other international agreements or organisations, to which the Community or the relevant Member State is a Party or a member, are excluded from the Regulation's scope;

3- Access to environmental information: exporters are requested to keep for a period of five years the notification sent to the competent authority of the Party or non-Party of import, prior to the first transboundary movement of a GMO. The notification, comprised inter alia of the names and contact details of the exporter and importer, must be copied to the competent authority in the Member State from which the GMO is exported, as well as to the European Commission. The Commission may be requested to make those copies available to the general public, in accordance with the Union's rules on access to environmental information. 3

Since current Community legislation does not contain requirements for exports of GMOs to third countries (i.e. countries outside the Union), the Regulation is seen as an important common legal framework to regulate such exports. It is considered of particular relevance in enabling developing countries, or countries with economies in transition, to take informed decisions when importing GMOs.

Moreover, with regard to the identification of GMOs in mixtures, the aim of the proposal is to provide for consistency with Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs and with other current or future Community legislation covering traceability, labelling and identification of such GMOs.

It is recalled that the Council formally adopted its common position on the proposed Regulation on 4 March 2003 (for further details see Press Release 6677/03). pdf

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