Brussels, 04 Dec 2002
The Council is expected to reach a political agreement on a proposal of a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the traceability and labelling of GMOs and of food and feed products produced from GMOs. This Regulation amends certain aspects of Directive 2001/18/EC
The Regulation aims at establishing a framework for the traceability of products consisting of or containing GMOs, and food and feed derived from GMOs, with the objective of facilitating accurate labelling, monitoring of the effects on the environment and, where appropriate, on human health. The Regulation aims also at facilitating the implementation of appropriate risk management measures including, if necessary, withdrawal of products from the market.
At this stage, one delegation maintains a general scrutiny reservation on the proposal and one delegation disagrees in general with its scope as it also covers products derived from GMOs where no genetically modified material is detectable (eg products containing genetically modified enzymes or proteins).
Although progress has been achieved since the last Council meeting on 17 October, there remain two key outstanding issues concerning the position of a number of delegations on:
- the traceability of GMO mixtures as or in products to be used directly as food or feed, as well as for processing; and
- exemptions from traceability and labelling, in particular for products that are not intended to be used as food or feed.
This Directive was adopted on 12 April 2001 and its provisions cover the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs (it repealed Council Directive 90/220/EEC ).
Following the political agreement on a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on genetically modified food and feed, reached at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on -28 November, the thresholds for products containing adventitious or technically unavoidable traces of GMOs intended for direct use as food or feed are expected to be the same as those approved by that Council configuration:
- a 0,5 % threshold limit for adventitious traces of GMOs that are unauthorised but have nevertheless been assessed as being risk-free;
- a 0,9 % minimum threshold regarding the scope of application for labelling rules below which products would be exempted from labelling requirements;
It should be noted that the text approved by the Agriculture Council focuses on genetically modified products that are to be delivered as such to the final consumer. The text under discussion at the Environment Council is concerned with the overall chain of production and the commercial transactions that take place among different operators.
The traceability system for products containing or consisting of GMOs involves the following general elements:
- the establishment by the Commission of a system to identify GMOs via the assignment of a ifunique identifierln (eg numeric or alphanumeric code); this ihunique identifierlc will allow the retrieval of information concerning traits, characteristics and transformation processes of individual GMOs;
- systems and procedures to identify the operators to whom and from whom products are made available;
- the transmission by operators of information concerning the identity of a specific product;
- the retention of information by operators for a period of five years - a co-ordinated approach to inspections and controls.
Labelling requirements are foreseen for products consisting of or containing GMOs, complementary to those laid down in Directive 2001/18/EC . The latter requires Member States to take all necessary measures to ensure the labelling of GMOs at all stages of their placing on the market.
The current Regulation will extend labelling provisions to pre-packaged products consisting of or containing GMOs, obliging operators to use, for instance, the words iothis product contains GMOslŒÏ on a label or in connection with the display of the product.
As far as food and feed products derived from GMOs are concerned, when placing them on the market operators will be required to provide operators receiving these products with information in writing.
It is recalled that the Council held a policy debate on this matter at its meeting on 17 October.