An impasse over food from cloned animals and their offspring led to the spectacular failure of conciliation talks on the revised legislation on novel foods last month, meaning that three years of discussions over ways to make the novel foods procedure simpler and faster must be discarded.
The disagreement has caused great dismay for the food industry, as the existing novel foods rules, drawn up in 1997, are lengthy and burdensome; they lead many companies look to introduce innovations to easier markets in preference to the EU.
The matter of cloning, meanwhile, was no intended to play centre stage in the package, but it was included as it had no natural home in any other existing legislation.
Participating in a debate at the Parliament’s ENVI committee yesterday afternoon, Commissioner Dalli assured MEPs that there is a “sense of urgency” about how to move forward, and said he intends to bring forward a new legislative proposal on novel foods by the end of this year
He revealed that work would start as soon as possible on a separate legislative proposal on cloning, and that the Commission “was committed to working with Parliament and securing a result as soon as possible”.
The divide over novel foods has come about as the European Parliament says produce from clones and off-spring should not enter the food chain without full traceability.
However food from animals with a clone somewhere in the family tree are not barred in other markets, and the Council argued that demanding traceability that cannot be delivered means blocking imports – and risking sanctions from trading partners like the US.