Recommendation for second reading on the common position for a regulation on traceability and labelling of GMOs

June 18, 2003

Brussels, 17 Jun 2003

FINAL A5-0204/2003 4 June 2003 Type of Procedure: Codecision procedure (second reading)
RECOMMENDATION FOR SECOND READING on the Council common position for adopting a European Parliament and Council regulation on traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and the traceability of food and feed products produced from genetically modified organisms and amending Directive 2001/18/EC
Full text

[...] Comments and proposals by the rapporteur

Since at voting at first reading there was a difference of opinions as to whether to vote for or against certain amendments, which resulted in a weak majority, I am only proposing in the draft recommendation for second reading certain changes which do not deal with substance of the provisions of the common position, in order to facilitate the obtaining of a qualified majority for its amendment.

In principle, from an analysis of the voting on the text which was adopted at first reading and the Council's common position, it is clear that the view which was expressed in the debate on the need to reinforce the detectability aspect of GMOs was incorporated, albeit only in part, in the provisions concerning the implementation of the regulation and the inspection and control measures, see Article 9 on 'the work of the Community Reference Laboratory' (amendment 47), the introduction of 'sample checks and testing (quantitative and qualitative)' (amendment 29) and the recitals 5 and 8 with the addition of the word 'detection'.

Given, moreover, that the Council acknowledges that 'detectability as such is a phenomenon that depends on scientific facts and the availability of technical solutions' and that 'it is therefore up to the Commission ? to scrutinise and assess detectability and to suggest appropriate solutions' (see reply to Parliamentary question H-0676/02), certain amendments to the recitals of the common position are being tabled which are designed to further promote detectability in addition to the provisions based on traceability, where the aim of the 'paper trail' is to improve the capacity to implement the regulation. The aim is to promote further consumer protection and to put in place safety mechanisms in order to prevent deception, fraud, distortion of competition and obstruction of the market, in the event that it is impossible to use analytical methods to establish whether a product is derived from GMOs, since that product is identical in every respect to the corresponding conventional product.

At the same time, I suggest that the regulation's recitals should emphasise that the mechanisms of the internal market operate effectively when consumer protection policy is based on Community rules, the implementation of which can also be monitored by scientific and analytical methods which do not allow fraud, the misleading of consumers or distortion of competition. Additionally, such an orientation enhances the chances of implementing the regulation world-wide, without creating barriers to trade. The text of the amendments suggested above was adopted recently in two non-legislative European Parliament resolutions concerning consumer policy strategy - see P5_TA-PROV (2003)0100, report by P Whitehead, A5-0023/2003 - and 'life sciences and biotechnology - a strategy for Europe' - see P5_TA-PROV (2002)0566, report by E M Damião, A5-0359/2002; consequently the Parliament's position should be identical and consistent on issues relating to GMOs.

Finally, I consider it useful to add the point regarding publication of the technical guidance on sampling (Article 9), testing and methods, since this improves transparency and contributes to a coordinated approach as well as to the successful implementation of the regulation.

In addition, I take the view that the swift adoption of this regulation, and of the regulation on genetically modified food and feed, will lead to the removal of the de facto moratorium on the approval of new GMOs and to the development of a strategy on life sciences and biotechnology, as described in the Council conclusions and roadmap. The development of such a strategy is important for Europe which, it should be stressed, is lagging noticeably behind in the promising technology of the 21st century as compared with its competitors, with adverse results at all levels - economic, social and also environmental. I am putting forward, therefore, amendments which do not change the substance of the legislative text of the proposal for a regulation and which improve the law and strengthen certain aspects to promote compliance with the regulation's provisions. [...]

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy - Rapporteur: Antonios Trakatellis

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