Note from the Italian delegation to the Agriculture Council on the co-existence of conventional, organic and biotechnological forms of farming

December 17, 2002

Brussels, 16 Dec 2002

Full text of Document 15601/02

At the beginning of 2003 the seeds of some GM varieties will be entered in the common catalogue, a step which will open the way to the use of GM varieties in the normal process of crop production.

All this will occur without common rules having been established to safeguard conventional and organic farming from the risk of progressive contamination resulting from the introduction of GM crops.

The failure to provide rules in this area also threatens to undermine the labelling system for finished products, in that the distinction between GM and GM-free foods rests on the guarantee that completely different methods of agrifoodstuffs production will be able to co-exist.

Italy believes that common rules need to be laid down to regulate the co-existence of the two farming systems; they should deal both with the potential contamination of conventional and organic seeds and with the need to ensure farmers' ­ and consequently consumers' ­ right of choice.

Italy therefore considers it necessary to:

* establish rules to ensure that conventional and organic farming are protected with regard to forms of farming using GM varieties;

* redefine the limits for seeds proposed by the Scientific Committee for Plants, following the lowering of the thresholds for the adventitious contamination of finished foodstuffs;

* defer entering GM seeds in the common catalogue until the common rules called for on the co-existence of the different forms of farming have been established.

Failing a decision to that effect, the issue will arise of applying the safeguard clause provided for in Community law, in order to ensure that conventional and organic forms of farming are preserved.

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