DG Environment's General Reply to Petitions on the Establishment of Labelling Thresholds for GM Traces in Other Products

February 21, 2005

Brussels, 18 Feb 2005

Directive 2001/18/EC regulating the deliberate release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) into the environment provides for the establishment of labelling thresholds for the adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of genetically modified (GM) traces in other products.

In 2001 the Commission asked the Scientific Committee on Plants (SCP) to assess the possibility of meeting a 1% threshold for labelling of the final food product, when sowing conventional seeds with a GMO content of up to 0.3% for cross-pollinating species and 0.5% for self-pollinating species. The SCP estimated levels of adventitious presence at different stages in the production cycle for three crops (oilseed rape, maize and sugar beet) and concluded that it would be possible to meet the 1% threshold for the final product.

Later, the Scientific Committee on Plants reconfirmed its opinion in the light of the 0.9% threshold for final food and feed products established by Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 on GM food and feed.

The Commission intends to use the assessment of the Scientific Committee as a basis for establishing thresholds which are scientifically-based, feasible in the field and economically sustainable. These threshold values will only be applied to GM crops authorised for cultivation which have already been subject to a complete assessment of risks to human health and the environment. These thresholds obviously have a financial impact on the production costs for seed producers, as well as for farmers (the GM content in seeds will have an impact on the costs of measures for ensuring co-existence in the crop production). The right balance will have to be found in order to preserve the interests of all different stakeholders.

The European Commission considered on 8 September 2004 that further additional technical and economic data were needed in order to establish scientifically-based, feasible and economically sustainable threshold values. The Commission will take a decision on this issue as soon as additional data will be available.

Currently, as no thresholds for the adventitious presence of GM seeds in other products are established, any seed lot containing GM seeds authorised for the cultivation in the EU has to be labelled as containing GMOs. Seed lots containing GM seeds that are not authorised for cultivation can not be marketed in the EU.

Environment DG
http:///europa.eu.int/comm/dg s/environmen t/index_en.htm
Item source: http:///eu ropa.eu.int/comm/environment/bi otechnology/pdf/general_reply.pdf Previous Item Back to Titles Print Item

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