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6-Regulation: EU Agriculture Council on co-existence

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TITLE:  Results of the Agriculture Council of February 2003
SOURCE: European Commission, Belgium
DATE:   Feb 21, 2003

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Results of the Agriculture Council of February 2003

DN: MEMO/03/41
Date: 21/02/2003

Brussels, 21 February 2003

Results of the Agriculture Council of February 2003


GMOs and co-existence

The Council held a discussion on co-existence. Commissioner Fischler
noted that co-existence meant that farmers should be able to choose the
agricultural production systems they prefer. "This will be particularly
important once the authorisations of new GMOs resume and genetically
modified crops are grown on a larger scale in the EU. What is at stake
here are the economic consequences that conventional or organic farmers
could incur if they have to sell their crops at a lower price because of
adventitious presence of GMOs above the authorised threshold level. Of
course, it can also work the other way round. If a GM crop has specific
qualities and therefore sells at a price premium, admixture with non-GM
crops could reduce its value.

Fischler announced that he would present a paper to the College on 5
March as a basis for an orientation debate on co-existence. "I hope that
we will come out of this debate with some clear policy orientations and a
concrete timetable for the future work. One thing that should be clear is
that we all need to work together to find a realistic and sustainable
solution to this highly complex issue. In order to facilitate this
process, the Commission is organising a Round Table on co-existence at
the end of April.

This Round Table shall provide an opportunity for discussion and an
exchange of information among a wide range of experts and stakeholders."
He further mentioned that the Commission was continuing to promote
research activities in this area.

On GM food, Commissioner Byrne clarified that the Novel Foods Regulation
remains the legal provision in force. New products would be looked at on
a case by case basis. A technical meeting with member State experts will
be held on 7 March to review all pending applications under the Novel
Foods Regulation and to check which applications can be processed under
the existing rules and which are likely to be converted into applications
under the new legal framework. Commissioner Byrne emphasised that the
purpose of this technical meeting was not to take decisions on any