Good news from the EU where the Commission has been trying to fob off any EU responsibility for co-existence onto member states. Co-existence is the issue of how to protect organic and conventional farming from contamination by genetically modified crops. Lots more information on this issue can be found here: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/conference/issue.htm
EP Environment Committee calls for legislation on co-existence
Brussels, 22 May 2003. Today the European Parliament, voting in 2nd reading on the proposed regulations on GM food/feed (COM(2001) 425) and traceability of GMOs (COM(2001) 182) called for legislation on co-existence. The Committee adopted an amendment to Directive 2001/18/EC which would allow and require Member States to take "all measures necessary to ensure that at all stages of the placing on the market of the GMOs placed on the market as or in products the notifier, any person selling the product or any user of it, take appropriate measures to prevent the unintended presence of the GMO or parts thereof in other products".
In addition, Parliament adopted all 1st reading amendments which require EFSA to propose whenever it comes to a favourable opinion on a GM food or feed application "effective measures which prevent the unintended presence of the food/feed in other food/feed".
The Committee also reaffirmed its position taken in 1st reading with regard to the labelling threshold and the tolerance level for unauthorised GMOs. The labelling threshold shall be lowered from 0.9%, as proposed by the Council, down to 0.5% as proposed by Parliament in 1st reading. In line with 1st reading, Parliament voted also in favour of amendments which delete the transitional (3 year) tolerance level of 0.5% for unauthorised GMOs.
The Committee voted in favour of amendments which exclude the use of GMOs as seed or propagating material from the scope of the new GM food/ feed regulation. Such use shall continue to require an authorisation under the Deliberate Release Directive 2001/18/EC.
The Committee also adopted far-reaching amendments with regard to the traceability of GMOs. Where products produced from GMOs are transferred, the Committee demands that the unique code of the GMO used for the production of the product should also be transmitted. The Council's common position requires the transmission of the unique code only in case of live GMOs/ food, feed containing or consisting of live GMOs. Moreover, Council rejected the Council's compromise that in the case of bulk commodities operators only have to indicate which GMOs have been used to constitute the mixture. Instead, the Committee demands, that all GMOs present in a product should always exactly be identified when the product is being transferred.
The Committee voted in favour of an amendment which states that no GMOs, GM food or feed should be approved until the traceability regulation is in force and actually operational. The Committee rejected a special exception which would have privileged mass caterers (and for which mass caterers had lobbied the Commission and the Council heavily). Last not least, the Committee also adopted an emergency clause which would allow Member States to take unilateral emergency actions without having to consult the Commission first. The clause, adopted by the Committee is identical to the emergency clause foreseen in Directive 2001/18/EC.
The plenary vote will take place during Parliament's plenary session in July (1-3 July).
NOTE: On 28 MAY 2003 the Green/EFA Group in the EP, together with Friends of the Earth Europe, Euro Coop and the Heinrich Boell Foundation will hold a conference on "GMOs- co-existence or contamination". For more information and registration, please visit: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/conference/home.htm.