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MEPs vote to exclude clone produce from novel foods

By Rory Harrington , 05-May-2010
Last updated the 05-May-2010 at 13:10 GMT

Food from cloned animals must be excluded from draft legislation on ‘novel foods’, Environment Committee MEPs said yesterday - in direct opposition to a position adopted by EU environment ministers just weeks ago.

The committee also declared food produced from nanotechnology processes must undergo a specific risk assessment before being approved for use and be labelled on packaging. The decision was approved by the influential committee with 42 votes in favour, two against and three abstentions.

The final plenary vote on the issue is expected to take place in the European Parliament in July. An EU official told FoodProductionDaily.com that MEPs had, in general, followed the lead set by the Environment Committee on this issue. The current proposal to update the novel foods regulation aims to simplify and centralise the procedure for authorising them. Only products included on the Community list can be placed on the market.

The latest decision by lawmakers comes in the wake of a position adopted by the European Council in mid-March to include produce from clones in the proposed amendment. The group of environment ministers however, suggested this as a stop-gap measure and that specific legislation on the matter be put in place in the near future.

Novel foods are defined as those which have not been consumed to any significant degree in the EU before May 1997. They include newly-developed foods, such as ones from new production processes like nanotechnology, but also foods traditionally consumed only outside the EU.

Moratorium

The committee delivered its verdict Tuesday based on concerns relating to food safety, safeguarding human health and animal welfare, the EU official said. MEPs voted to entirely exclude food derived from cloned animals and their offspring from the scope of the new legislation. They called for a moratorium on animal cloning and urged the European Commission to develop a separate proposal on the matter.

Members also said that foods produced from nanotechnology must be prohibited from the EU list until they have been subject to proper risk assessment and more is understood about any potential health effects of nano-scale materials. The draft legislation defines engineered nano-materials as having one or more dimensions less than 100 nm. All nano-ingredients will need to be clearly labelled on the list of ingredients.

Before any novel food is included on the Community list, the EU’s ethics and science in new technologies group should also deliver its opinion where necessary, said MEPs.