Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) (Extracted from Background for the Environment Council of 4 March)

March 3, 2003

Brussels, 28 Feb 2003

The Council will be informed by the Commission on the resumption of authorisation procedures for new genetically modified (GM) food products (i.e. lifting of GMO moratorium in force de facto since 1998). A number of delegations are particularly interested in knowing more about the Commission's planned calendar of activities in this field.

Furthermore, the Council will also be informed by the Commission of the state of play as regards the coexistence of GM and GMO-free production chains (i.e. coexistence between GMO seeds and conventional agriculture).

Ministers are expected to hold an exchange of views on these two aspects of the Union's GMO- related policies.

The political agreements reached by the Council in 2002 on common positions concerning the proposal for a Regulation on genetically modified food and feed and the proposal for a Regulation on traceability and labelling of GMOs set the background for this Commission briefing.

It is recalled that the Council (Agriculture) was also informed by the Commission on the same matter on 20 February.

A Communication by the Commission on biotechnology and the question of coexistence between GM-seeds and conventional agriculture is due to be released on 5 March 2003. The four Commissioners most concerned by this topic (Agriculture, Food Safety, Research and Environment) are expected to meet prior to the release of the Communication. df

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