Extract from Council Minutes, 22 July 2003
The following are extracts from minutes of the Agriculture and Fisheries
Council meeting held on the 22 July 2003
The Council reached political agreement on two legislative proposals in the "food hygiene" package:
The Council agreed, however, not to adopt a common position on all the details of the package until after the texts had been technically finalised at the beginning of September, so as to ensure that the various components of the package were consistent, and then to forward them promptly to the European Parliament.
The Council approved the European Parliament's amendments at second reading concerning the proposal for a Directive amending Council Directive 96/22/EC concerning the prohibition on the use in stockfarming of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action and of beta-antagonists. In accordance with the co-decision procedure, the act was thus deemed adopted at second reading, with the United Kingdom delegation abstaining and the Spanish and Portuguese delegations voting against.
The Council adopted a common position on this proposal on 20 February 2003, before forwarding it to the European Parliament for second reading. Three amendments to the common position were adopted by the Parliament. Those amendments were accepted by the Permanent Representatives Committee on 16 July 2003.
In 1999, the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVMPH) decided that oestradiol 17 _, used to stimulate growth, should be considered as wholly carcinogenic. The original proposal aimed once and for all to prohibit oestradiol 17 _ and its derivatives in farm animals, and provisionally to prohibit five other hormones, and also to make it possible for the Standing Veterinary Committee to amend the Annexes. The proposal would allow the Community better to safeguard consumer health and to comply with the obligations imposed by the World Trade Organisation. The Commission presented an amended proposal on 9 March 2001. The compromise worked out with the Parliament imposes the ban but allows the hormone to be used for therapeutic purposes or with a view to a zootechnical treatment, as long as it is not likely to constitute a risk to public health. The adopted amendments make it possible for the use of this hormone on breeding animals gradually to disappear over a period of three years from the entry into force of the Directive.
Additives for use in animal nutrition
The Council approved the European Parliament's amendments at second reading concerning the proposal for a Regulation on additives for use in animal nutrition. In accordance with the codecision procedure, the act was thus deemed adopted by a qualified majority, with the Austrian delegation voting against. Statements by the German, Austrian, Danish and Swedish delegations are attached to the proposal for a Regulation.
In 1999 the Scientific Steering Committee declared that "regarding the use of antimicrobials as growth promoting agents, the use of agents from classes which are or may be used in human or veterinary medicine (i.e. where there is a risk of selecting for cross-resistance to drugs used to treat bacterial infections) should be phased out as soon as possible and ultimately abolished". The Commission's original proposal aimed to eliminate from the Community register established by the Regulation antibiotics used as growth promoting agents with effect from 1 January 2006, used as feed additives, including some substances with coccidiostatic and histomonostatic effects. It provides for a more transparent authorisation procedure concerning additives, under the aegis of the European Food Safety Authority.
The Council adopted a common position on this proposal on 17 March 2003, before forwarding it to the European Parliament for a second reading. Nine amendments to the common position were adopted by the Parliament. Those amendments were accepted by the Permanent Representatives Committee on 11 June 2003. The compromise achieved with Parliament includes the phasing out of coccidiostats and histomonostats by 31 December 2012, and requires the Commission to present the Parliament and Council with a report by 1 January 2008 on coccidiostats accompanied where appropriate by legislative proposals.
GM FOOD - Genetically modified organisms
The Council approved the European Parliament's amendments at second reading concerning the proposal for a Regulation on genetically modified food and feed. In accordance with the codecision procedure the act was thus deemed adopted by a qualified majority, with the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Austrian and Danish delegations voting against.
The aim of the Commission's proposal was to provide the necessary basis for ensuring a high level of protection of human life and health, animal health, environment and consumers' interests in relation to genetically modified food and feed, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market.
The proposal defines centralised Community procedures for the assessment, authorisation and supervision of genetically modified food and feed, including requirements as regards the labelling of such products.
The Council adopted a common position on this proposal on 17 March 2003, before forwarding it to the European Parliament for a second reading. The Parliament adopted nine amendments to the common position. Those amendments were accepted by the Permanent Representatives Committee on 11 July 2003. The compromise achieved with the Parliament requires the Member States to take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in products, and that on the basis of experience at national level, the Commission should set guidelines regarding the co-existence of genetically modified, convention and organic seeds.
TRACEABILITY - Traceability and Labelling of GMOs
The Council adopted a Regulation, with the Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and the Danish delegations voting against, concerning the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and of food and feed products produced from GMOs, following its approval of the European Parliament's second reading amendments to the Council's common position.
The common position, thus amended, stresses the importance of giving consumers the possibility to make an informed choice of product, by means of full and reliable information on GMOs and products, food and feed produced therefrom. Moreover, it calls for a Commission report to be submitted to the Council and the Parliament on the outcome of the Regulation's implementation in the Member States, for the standardisation of procedures that allow the holding of information on GMOs, for the publication of the Commission's technical guidance on sampling and testing, as well as for the setting up of a Central Register at Community level containing all available information and reference material for at least those GMOs authorised in the Community.
The Regulation modifies certain aspects of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs. It aims to establish 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. It is aimed also at facilitating the implementation of appropriate risk management measures including, if necessary, withdrawal of products from the market.
It covers the overall chain of production and the commercial transactions that
take place among different operators as regards traceability and labelling of
GMOs. It should be seen as an important element of the overall Union's legislative
package on GMOs, which also comprises the Regulation
on genetically modified (GM) food and feed, and the current discussion on the coexistence of GM-seeds with traditional and organic forms of agriculture. It is recalled that, the Council (Agriculture) adopted its common position on 17-18 March 2003 and reached political agreement on 9 December 2002.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands delegations have made a public statement on the Regulation's provisions.