Britain votes against tougher EU labels/FSA man to take over European food safety authority (11/12/2002)

11 December 2002


It's to be hoped that the European Parliament will take a long hard look at the proposed new head of the European Food Safety Authority, given the dire record of the UK's Food Standards Agency, which was at the forefront of Britain's opposition to the EU's new labelling rules. For more on the FSA's disturbing agenda: http://ngin.tripod.com/pants1.htm

1.EU govts agree new GM crop import and label rules
2.unlicensed GM ingredients in our food
3.Dodgy Podger? UK's Podger to Head EU Food Safety Agency


1.EU govts agree new GM crop import and label rules

Reuters Securities News (Eng)
Tuesday, December 10, 2002  04:57
By Robin Pomeroy

BRUSSELS, Dec 9 (Reuters) - European Union environment ministers on Monday agreed new controls on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which could eventually lead the 15-member bloc to reopen its markets to GM foods.     "We can now give consumers a choice between products that contain GMOs and those that don't," Danish Environment Minister Hans Christian Schmidt said at the end of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.     Denmark currently holds the rotating EU presidency.     "We have got a majority in favour of a solution...The result is very important for Europe. It gives the possibility to industry to use GMOs for the benefit of all," Schmidt said in a meeting beamed to journalists by closed circuit TV.     The new rules require ships carrying bulk grain to detail exactly what GM products, if any, the shipments contain. The regulation now requires approval by the European Parliament.     The EU has had a virtual ban on most GM crops since 1999 when a large minority of EU states vowed not to authorise any new GM crops for use in the bloc, pending tougher rules on what the media was calling "Frankenstein foods".     The United States said the ban was illegal, dismissing European fears of possible future environmental and health risks.     The cabinet of U.S.President George W. Bush is considering launching a World Trade Organisation case against the EU, a high-level U.S. official said last week.

    The new rules will require GM shipments to carry a code number which identifies the origin of the crops, enabling products to be withdrawn from the food chain if problems arise.     Britain and the Netherlands voted against the rules, saying they would prove too costly for bulk shippers as some mixing of GM and non-GM grain is inevitable.     They wanted shipments to be labled "may contain GMOs" without the need for an exact list of the crops on board, but they were outvoted.     Environmental group Greenpeace was pleased with the agreement.     "An overwhelming majority of ministers have saved the traceability system which was under threat," Greenpeace campaigner Lorenzo Consoli said.     Anti GM-campaigners say even if GMOs -- plants or animals whose gene sequence has been spliced with that of other species -- show no immediate health risks, they might cross breed with conventional plants or wild relatives.     The new rules are meant to ensure that GMOs can be traced "from farm to fork" and removed from the food chain if any health or environmental problems emerge.     Monday's text and an agreement by EU farm ministers last week which set a 0.9 percent threshold below which traces of GM matter in non-GM crops would not need to be labelled, now pass to the European Parliament to be approved or rejected.



Immediate Release: Tuesday 10 December 2002

But agree to unlicensed GM ingredients in our food

European Environment Ministers have voted to strengthen the rules governing GM food.

Late last night (Monday) they agreed to:

* extend and strengthen regulations on the mandatory labelling of food and animal feed products derived from genetically modified (GM) crops. The decision will make it easier for consumers to avoid food containing GM ingredients.

* improve regulations on the traceability of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food and animal feed.  The decision dramatically increases the ability to monitor the potential adverse effects of GMOs on health and the environment, and makes it easier to recall products if risks relating to particular GMOs are identified.

Friends of the Earth Europe is broadly supportive of the Ministers‚ decision, but regrets that the Ministers have backed a proposal to allow a  0.5 per cent threshold for the contamination of food products by unauthorised GM ingredients for a period of three years.

Friends of the Earth's European GM Campaigner, Geert Ritsema, said:

"People throughout Europe do not want to eat food containing ingredients from GM crops. So plans for tougher GM labelling, which have been backed by European Ministers, are welcome as they will help people to choose what they eat.

"But plans to allow unlicensed GM ingredients into the European food chain are completely outrageous. Consumers don‚t even want licensed GM ingredients in their food, which is why the GM rules are being tightened. They will be understandably angry that politicians are allowing ingredients that have not even been approved."

Friends of the Earth will now call upon the European Parliament, which will again vote on the proposals in the beginning of next year (the final vote in the legal process), to reject proposals to allow unlicensed GMOs in our food.  When the Parliament discussed GM labelling for the first time, in July 2002, a large majority of MEP‚s has voted for zero-tolerance to unauthorised GMOs.

Yesterday evening the Environment Ministers (only opposed by the UK, The Netherlands, Luxemburg and Finland), strengthened the traceability rules for GMOs. Instead of a documentation system that only says "may contain GMOs" (as proposed by the European Commission), the Ministers decided that operators in the food and feed chain will have to provide other operators with a list of all GMOs that have been used. This would make it much easier to recall products in case of a risk related to a specific GMO and to monitor potential adverse impacts of specific GMOs on human health and the environment.

The Environment Ministers also backed new labeling proposals, which were drafted by the EU Commission and were supported by EU Agriculture Ministers two weeks ago. The new labelling rules will:

* extend labelling regulations to animal feed. This will make it easier for food manufacturers to obtain milk, eggs and meat from animals fed GM-free diets.

* extend the labelling regulations to include all ingredients derived from GM crops for food. At present regulations do not cover items such as sugar and vegetable oils.

* tighten the GM threshold (the amount of GM present in a food product before GM labelling regulations apply) from 1 per cent to 0.9 per cent.

Geert Ritsema (Brussels) 00 32 2 542 0182 / 00 31 6 290 05 908 (m)
 Adrian Bebb (FOE GM campaigner) 0113 389 9952


3.UK's Podger to Head EU Food Safety Agency

AFX News Limited, October 03, 2002

LONDON (AFX) - The board of the new European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is nominating the chief executive of the UK's Food Standards Agency, Geoffrey Podger, as its first executive director, the Wall Street Journal reported without citing sources.

EFSA is Europe's answer to the US Food and Drug Administration and was set up following the mad-cow crisis of the 1990s and other food scares that damaged Europeans' confidence in their governments'ability to maintain a safe food supply.

Podger's job is to provide a purely scientific assessment of any food-related risks to human health, although politicians will still make the final decisions on European food policy, it said.

Podger is a career civil servant who has worked for the UK Department of Health since 1982 and was responsible for the establishment and development of the UK's food-safety agency.

His nomination becomes final after he makes a presentation to the European Parliament, probably before the end of October, the Journal said.

[email protected]

Copyright 2002 AFX News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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