Brussels, 10 Jul 2003
Subject: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed
­ Outcome of the European Parliament's second reading (Strasbourg, 30 June to 3 July 2003)
In accordance with the provisions of Article 251 (2) of the EC Treaty and the joint declaration on practical arrangements for the 1 co-decision procedure, a number of informal contacts were made between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission with a view to reaching a compromise agreement at second reading.
The Rapporteur, Ms. Karin SCHEELE (PSE, A), presented her report containing 48 amendments on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, which included the package of compromise amendments (consisting of Amendments 1, 7, 8, 9, and 44 to 48) that resulted from the informal tripartite talks that preceded the vote in plenary.
In the joint debate which was held on genetically modified organisms [Genetically modified food and feed, Karin Scheele ( 2001/01 73 COD) and Traceability and labelling of GMOs, Antonios Trakatellis ( 2001/01 80 COD)] the Rapporteur recalled the heated and emotive debate that the proposed legislation had provoked and expressed satisfaction that the result that had emerged was consumer friendly and innovative, in particular as regards the requirements it establishes for the labelling of food and feed stuffs. On the issue of coexistence the Rapporteur declared that, while she would have preferred to have a mandatory system for Member States, she was pleased with the compromise achieved which allows for the issue to be addressed at community level albeit in a subsidiary manner.
On behalf of the Commission, Commissioner BYRNE, expressed his satisfaction that a compromise package had been tabled to facilitate the final adoption of the proposal which will ensure a high level of protection of human and animal health on the basis of a streamlined, efficient and more transparent authorisation procedure. On the question of coexistence, Commissioner BYRNE stated that he would have preferred to address it separately in the context of Commissioner Fischler's ongoing work. However, he added, the Commission was prepared to support the compromise package and to develop guidelines on appropriate measures to be taken at national level, as outlined in the package. Such guidelines, the Commissioner pointed out, were due to be adopted by the Commission later in the month of July.
Thirty-three members of the European Parliament took part in the joint debate. Their interventions reflected not so much divergences on the legislation at hand, but rather their underlying views on the broader issue of the use of genetically modified organisms.
Speakers on behalf of the PPE-DE were broadly in favour of regulating the use of GMOs at European level so that their potential could be explored and that the de facto moratorium could be lifted.
For the PSE a number of speakers stated that, while the legislation at hand was not ideal, it was necessary to provide Europe with a legal regulatory framework as soon as possible in view of the undeniable reality of GMOs. The PSE could therefore support the outlined compromise package.
Similarly, Mr. Davies (ELDR, UK) explained that while he felt that Europe was being driven too fast by narrow commercial interests, mainly concentrated in the United States, he believed that imperfect as the compromise package was (on GM food and feed), the proposed legislation would have the merit of providing consumers with information so that they make their own choices.
In the same line, speakers from the group GREENS/ALE expressed the view that although unsatisfactory - particularly in view of the agreed thresholds in GM food and feed which it considered too high - the compromises achieved would allow for an informed choice by consumers.
On behalf of the GUE/NGL Mr. Sjöstedt (S) called for greater caution and stricter rules in the authorisation and use of GM technology. Similarly, speakers on behalf of the UEN, the EDD and some independent Members of Parliament (NI) called for caution in the use of genetically modified organisms, and warned against the lifting of the EU moratorium on GM organisms
The package of compromise amendments was adopted by an overwhelming majority.
These amendments reflect the compromise agreement reached between the three institutions and should therefore be acceptable to the Council.
The text of the adopted amendments and the legislative resolution of the European Parliament are set out in the Annex to this note.