Genetically modified seeds (Extract from the report of the 16/17 Dec Agriculture/Fishing Council)

December 18, 2002

Brussels, 17 Dec 2002

The Italian delegation, supported by the French, Austrian, German, Luxembourg and Portuguese delegations, drew the attention of the Council and of the Commission to the possible problems caused by the co-existence of conventional, organic and biotechnological forms of farming (see doc 15601/02).

The United Kingdom and the Danish delegations emphasised the need to have a sound scientific basis prior to bringing any changes to the thresholds on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) agreed at the last Agriculture and Fisheries Council in November 2002, in particular concerning the 0.9% minimum threshold for labelling rules below which GMOs would be exempted from the labelling requirements.

Commissioner FISCHLER recalled that a strategy paper from the Commission already took account of the issue of the planting of GM seeds. He mentioned that under the current legislation 5 , GMOs were already subject to a comprehensive assessment and that the Scientific Plant Committee gave its Opinion on that subject.

He indicated that the question of the addition of GM seeds to the Community catalogue of seeds had been solved, as GM seeds had already been risk assessed.

Concerning the 0,9% threshold, he stressed that this limit was unlikely to be overshot. As regards the possible risks caused by GM seeds, he noted that invoking a safeguard clause would be subject to very stringent conditions. On the risks caused by the proximity in the planting of GM seeds and conventional seeds, he pointed out that the Commission would examine this issue so that a proposal could be submitted rapidly to the Council in 2003.

Full report of the Agriculture/Fishing Council on 16 & 17 December

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