Genetically modified food and feed (extract from: Background, Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Luxembourg, 14 and 15 October 2002)

October 14, 2002

Brussels, 11 Oct 2002

The Council will hold a policy debate on the proposal for a Regulation regarding genetically modified food and feed. The European Parliament gave his Opinion at first reading on 3 July 2002.

Work in the Council's working group has progressed well since July and only three major questions now remain outstanding. The Presidency has presented compromise solutions that are still being examined by a number of delegations.

In particular, opinions differ on the legal basis to be used for the granting of an authorisation to place genetically modified food and feed on the market. Thus, it has yet to be decided whether the central authorisation procedure should be based on article 95 of the Treaty (enabling a decision by qualified majority) or if it should be based on article 308 (which would require unanimity) for the food part. The Presidency has suggested replacing the centralised procedure of authorisation by a decentralised procedure involving the Member States, in order enabling an agreement to be reached without the use of Article 308. This procedure would require that the application for an authorisation shall be sent to the competent national authorities of the Member State in which the applicant is established, then forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority.

The second issue deals with the thresholds set for traces of unauthorised GMOs that have nevertheless been assessed as riskfree. The Commission wishes these thresholds to be maintained in order to ensure that the Regulation is both applicable and feasible. The Presidency suggests to add restrictions regarding the time limit for GMOs evaluated, to limit to a 1% rate (which could be reduced by means of a committee procedure) the maximum proportion of GMO during a transitional period.

The extension of the scope for labelling of food containing GMO material is a third issue in connection with the scope of the Regulation: under the labelling provisions, a specific threshold no higher than 1% is being suggested for all genetically modified products. Under this threshold no labelling requirement would be applied.

Danish Presidency Website http://www.eu2002.dk/main/

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