Brussels, 03 Jul 2003
The European Parliament has voted to approve two draft regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), opening the way for new authorisations of GM products in the EU.
The two pieces of draft legislation, one covering GM food and feed, and the other covering the traceability and labelling of GMOs, were approved by MEPs at the second reading stage during a Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on 2 July. The proposals aim to establish clear guidelines governing the authorisation procedures, labelling requirements and traceability throughout the production cycle for all products containing GMOs.
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström welcomed the result of the vote, saying: 'Today's vote is a very important step forwards towards full implementation of the EU legislation on GMOs. It will reinforce our international credibility and will certainly help in building public confidence in new technologies.'
David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, added: 'We will now have the most rigorous pre-marketing assessment of GM food and feed in the world. This should give consumers greater confidence that the safety of GM products will be independently assessed by the European Food Safety Authority.'
In approving the proposals, MEPs adopted a limited number of amendments aimed at tightening authorisation and labelling requirements. One amendment was aimed at setting the maximum threshold for the presence of adventitious (or technically unavoidable) GMOs in conventional food at 0.9 per cent, well above the Parliament's original recommendation of 0.5 per cent.
On the issue of labelling, Parliament introduced an amendment that would require producers to provide accurate descriptions of mixtures of GMOs in a single product, rather than a simple 'declaration of use' proposed by Council in its common position.
A further amendment states that 'measures should be taken to ensure the coexistence of GM production and non GM production'. The amendment also specifies that the technical details of coexistence should be decided by means of the comitology procedure.
The European Parliament's decision was welcomed by the environmental NGO Greenpeace. In a statement, the organisation said: 'The new rules bring great news for EU consumers, farmers and food producers - all food and animal feed containing GMOs must now be clearly labelled.'
Commissioner Wallström was also clearly pleased with the result of the vote, saying: 'I want to thank the Parliament for its backing of our proposals, and look forward to formal adoption by the Council.'