EU GM Food Regulation Challenged By The Member States
Brussels, 19 October, 2000 – The European Union regulation on genetically engineered (GE) food and food ingredients was challenged today as the majority of member states supported Italy’s ban on GE maize products (1) which had been fast-track approved for the European market. Their approval had been given under the Novel Food Regulation (CE 258/97) invoking the principle of “substantial equivalence” which does not require any assessment of risk for consumers.
The EU Commission was forced to withdraw its proposal to impose the lifting of the Italian ban as it appeared that there was not a qualified majority in favour of it.
During the meeting of the Standing Committee on Foodstuffs, where the member states are represented and vote according to the same weighted system as in the EU Council, Germany, Denmark, Greece and Austria supported Italy. Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and France expressed their intention to abstain. Only the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Spain and Ireland backed the EU Commission.
“This case highlights a major loophole in the chain of EU law on GE food. Greenpeace opposes the fast track procedure, which presently allows GE food products, which have not been subjected to any risk assessment, to be freely sold on the market. The principle of ‘substantial equivalence’ between GE and non GE foods has been proven to be ambiguous and scientifically unsound,” said Brigid Gavin, Greenpeace EU Advisor for Genetic Engineering Campaign.
The principle of “substantial equivalence”, which implies that GE food is substantially no different from natural food, has now been put in question and the Novel Food Regulation as it stands will probably have to be revised.
Greenpeace called for all GE food products, which have already been approved under the fast track procedure of the EU Novel Food Regulation, to be withdrawn from the EU market until a proper risk assessment is applied, based on the precautionary principle.
For more information: Brigid Gavin, Greenpeace EU Advisor for Genetic Engineering Campaign, Tel: +32 2 2801400; Lorenzo Consoli, Media Officer, Greenpeace European Unit, Brussels, Tel: +32-75-955465 or http:\\www.greenpeace.org
Note to editors:
On August 4th, this year, the Italian government banned the use of any food products that contain the four GE maize ingredients: Mon 810, Mon 809, Novartis BT11, AgEvo T25. -- These products include flour, corn gluten, semolina, starch, glucose, unprocessed vegetable oils and all products obtained by cooking, fermentation, or milling. Scientific evidence has shown that all of these products contained modified DNA and proteins which had not been completely broken down.
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