Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Notice, 2 July 2001

GMOs - Messages from citizens on GMO legislation

Commissioner Byrne has received a large amount of e-mail messages from citizens concerned about upcoming legislative initiatives with respect to genetically modified organisms. The Commissioner appreciates the interest shown and the input he is receiving. Given the quantity of mail received, he hopes you understand that it is not possible to reply in detail to all the individual points made. Nevertheless, he is taking due note of all your comments and concerns and will bear them in mind in finalising the proposals.

The European Commission is working on the completion of a regulatory package on GM covering all aspects and sectors, a package which is necessary to restore confidence in the process of authorisation and monitoring of GMOs in the European Union.

The first of the regulatory "building blocks" - the revised horizontal directive on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment, the updated 90/220, now Directive 2001/18/EC - has been adopted by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in February this year. It provides strong safeguards in terms of assessment, monitoring, traceability, time-limited authorisations and research.

The European Commission is currently working out the specifics of legislative proposals on traceability and labelling for "live GMOs", as well as on the appropriate traceability for products derived from GMOs. This traceability system would cover all sectors - seeds, feed, food, taking into account the needs and specificity of the various stages of the food chain.

In addition, the Commission intends to put forward proposals to supplement the labelling requirements for GM derived food, and to fill in the gaps in the regulation of GM feed . In the near future proposals concerning the purity criteria for conventional seeds in relation to GM seeds will also be presented.

In developing these proposals, Commission services are considering all aspects of the problem, and talking to the various stakeholders. Once the proposals are finalized and agreed by the Commission, they will be published on this web site. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will discuss the proposals and together take the decision on the final adoption of the legislation. The key objectives for Commissioner Byrne are: that decisions are based on science; that only safe food can be put on the market; that consumers are able to exercise a choice on the products they want to eat; and that a regulatory regime is workable and enforceable.

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