Food Law News - EU - 2001
FSA Letter, 11 July 2001
GM FOODS - Developments on Commission Proposals on Traceability and labelling of GMOs and food and feed products derived from them, and on genetically modified food and feed
Last December the FSA wrote to inform people that the European Commission was developing proposals for the traceability and labelling of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and derived products, following publication of their discussion paper on traceability and labelling of GMOs. Subsequently the Commission decided to develop two separate proposals, one on traceability and labelling of GMOs and food and feed products developed from them and another on the approval and labelling of genetically modified food and feed.
Initially the Commission indicated that the proposals would be published in
April; However there was an informal meeting of Member States and the Commission
in Brussels on 5 July and it was apparent that there were still a number of
difficulties with the proposals. It now appears that the earliest that they
will be issued as formal Commission proposals is 25th July but this may not
happen until September. Although the final detail of the text of the proposals
has not yet been agreed, Member States have been invited to offer comments on
a draft of the food and feed proposal (for pdf copy, click
here). The traceability proposal, which is closely linked with the food
and feed approval proposal and is intended to provide a mechanism for ensuring
that all ingredients obtained from GM sources can be labelled, appears to be
at a less advanced stage.
Whether the proposals are published in July or September it is possible that negotiations may start sometime in September.
There will be a full written consultation once the Commission proposals have been published. The proposals will also be placed on the FSA website at www.foodstandards.gov.uk as soon as they are published. The views received from will help to inform a paper for discussion by the FSA Board. That discussion and the responses to the full consultation will be carefully considered and taken into account when determining the UK negotiating position.
Some of the key issues that the FSA anticipate will need to be considered in the proposals are:
Proposal on Genetically Modified Food and Feed
- the implications of separating the approval of other novel foods from the approval of GM foods and feeds;
- the exact scope of the food and feed materials covered by the proposal, particularly whether processing aids derived from GMOs are included (article 3);
- the roles of the new European Food Authority and of Member States in the approval process, and the interrelationship of this regulation with Directive 2001/18, which amends the deliberate release directive 90/220 (article 6);
- the implications of removing the simplified approval procedure (article 5 of the novel foods regulation 258/97);
- the extent to which the public will be able to comment on applications under consideration (article 7(8));
- the proposal to renew authorisations every ten years (articles 12 and 25);
- the proposal that labelling will be based on the use of the process of genetic modification, rather than being triggered by the presence of novel genetic material (DNA and protein) as at present, and how such a requirement could be enforced to avoid fraudulent practices in the absence of analytical methods (article 13);
- the lack of any reference to labelling the absence of genetic modification in the production of food or feed; and
- the cost implications of the proposal, particularly for the consumer and small businesses.
Proposal on Traceability and Labelling of Genetically Modified Organisms and Traceability of Food and Feed Products derived from GMOs
- the Commission has already indicated that traceability requirements will not be imposed on exporting countries. If an importer is unable to obtain information as to the origin of a consignment from an exporter they would have to have samples analysed. It is unclear how such an importer would sample imports of ingredients such as refined vegetable oils where analytical methods are not capable of identifying whether the oil came from a GM or non-GM source;
- the cost implications of the proposal for non-GM ingredients, particularly for the consumer and small businesses;
- the proposals will address threshold levels for accidental presence of GM material in non-GM products (see articles 5 and 18 of the food/feed proposal), whether this would apply only to GM varieties that had gained approval in the EU or whether it would extend to GM varieties not authorised for use in the EU but which have received authorisation in other countries is not yet clear but this needs to be given careful consideration; and
- whether traceability systems can be made to work in practice and how can they be enforced.
There may also be other issues that will become apparent when the formal proposals are published which will be the subject of the formal written consultation.
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