The European Parliament debated the Commission proposal on 13 May and adopted a number of amendments which were in line with the UK Presidency proposal. With the majority of Member States and the European parliament supporting the Presidency amendments the Commission finally agreed to accept the Presidency compromise in its entirety including removal of the reference to ‘may contain’ labelling. As a result Member States were then in a position to adopt the Commission proposal as amended by the UK Presidency by a qualified majority. The proposal was formally adopted at the Agriculture Council on 26 May with Italy, Sweden and Denmark voting against. The text should be published in the OJ soon.
Now that the Regulation has been adopted, the UK will be pressing the Commission to develop a “negative” list of products that do not contain novel protein or DNA as a matter of urgency. Another issue that will be considered is that of a threshold for accidentally contamination, and again the Commission is being asked to examine the practicality of establishing a threshold as soon as possible.
In the UK, the next steps will be to prepare complementary domestic legislation on enforcement and penalties for the new EC Regulation.
Agriculture Council Meeting, 25/26 May 1998
The following is the relevant extract from the Minutes of the meeting:
On the basis of a modified Commission proposal which takes account of the outcome of the Internal Market Council on the 20 May 1998 (see Press Release n 8528/98), the Council approved by qualified majority a Regulation concerning the compulsory indication on the labelling of certain foodstuffs produced from genetically modified organisms of particulars other than those provided for in Directive 79/112/EEC. The Danish, Italian and Swedish delegations voted against.
The text, submitted to the Council on 26 February 1998 in the context of a type III(a) committee procedure, deals with the specific labelling requirements for foodstuffs and food ingredients produced from genetically modified soya or maize which have been placed on the market. Its aim is to ensure that the final consumer is clearly informed through labelling when genetically modified soya or maize are contained in foods and food ingredients.