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6-Regulation: GP on EU Council Agreement on GM Food feed

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EU Council agrees the World's Strictest Legislation on Labelling of
Genetically Modified Food and Feed
Greenpeace Press Release

Brussels 28 November 2002 - Greenpeace today welcomed the political
agreement, by the EU Agriculture Council, on the new Regulation on
Genetically Modified (GM) Food and Feed. The agreement paves the way for
Europe to adopt the world's strictest and most comprehensive regulations
for labelling of GM food and feed, which will substantially increase
European consumers and farmers ability to choose what products to eat and
use. For the first time, GM feed will be labelled in the European Union.

When the new Regulation on Genetically Modified (GM) Food and Feed will
come into force, then no GM product will be allowed unlabelled into the EU
market.  All GM food and food ingredients, including highly processed
derivatives such as sugar, refined oil and starch, produced from
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), will have to be clearly labelled.
Another separate new regulation will set up a thorough 'traceability'
system in order to follow food and food ingredients consisting of,
containing or produced from GMOs across all stages of the food processing
and distribution chain till the final product.  These are exactly the
changes that Greenpeace demanded in 1996-97, when the EU Novel Food
Regulation was negotiated and approved.

 'This result shows that the consumers, when asserting their rights, can
win against the most powerful corporate lobbies. The most important
practical effect of this new regulation will be that no GMOs can enter the
European market unlabelled. This will
send a strong message to commodity exporting nations such as the USA,
Canada, Argentina and Brazil. The times when you could sneak millions of
tonnes of GM soybeans and maize unlabelled into the food chain are
definitely over,' said Lorenzo Consoli, Greenpeace Advisor on GMOs.

One of Greenpeace's major concern remains the fact that the new regulation
does not contain an adequate safeguard clause, which would allow Member
States to enact national bans of approved GM products, based on the
precautionary principle, where there are reasons to consider that there are
possible risks for health or the environment. This kind of safeguard clause
exists in the former and current EU legislation on GMOs  Directives on
deliberate release and Novel Food Regulation), and must be included also in
the GM Food and Feed Regulation.

The key details of the EU Council agreement were:
1) The labelling threshold for authorised GMOs in food and feed has been
lowered 0,9 % in respect to the 1% threshold originally proposed by the
European Commission. It will also be possible to establish lower thresholds
through a technical procedure for foods containing or consisting of live
GMOs. Greenpeace regretted that the agreement did not follow the European
Parliament's request for 0,5% threshold.

2) The UK Government's 'attempt to undermine the GMO labelling obligation
for products derived from GMOs (derivatives) by insisting on the actual
detectability of GMO traces in the final product, was definitively
defeated. All food and feed ingredients will have to be labelled, if they
are produced from GMOs, on the basis of the new traceability system,
irrespective to the detectability of GMO traces in the final product.

Greenpeace regretted:
1) The Council's decision to allow up to 0,5 % accidental contamination in
food and feed from GMOs that have not been authorised in the EU, but
recognises that this provision will now be only a three-year transitional
regime, after which there will be a return to the 'zero tolerance' regime.
An improvement is also the agreed lowering of the tolerance threshold in
respect to the 1% figure initially proposed by the Commission.

2) The rejection of the Danish proposals aiming at imposing labelling of
animal products produced with GM feed, such as meat, milk and eggs, and
urged producers and retailers to voluntarily inform the consumers about
whether GE feed has been used, through the appropriate labelling on the
final product.

For more information: Lorenzo Consoli, Greenpeace EU Policy Advisor on
Genetic Engineering, Mob: +32 496 122112; Teresa Merilainen, Greenpeace
International Press Office, Tel: +31205236637