Member states, gathered at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), voted to reinforce previously introduced emergency controls on Chinese rice imports.
The Commission based its decision on an audit carried out in China by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) earlier this year and on notifications cascaded through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
Brussels said that it was necessary to reinforce prior controls on GM rice products, as non are authorised in the EU.
Previously, Chinese authorities were obliged to provide a pre-export report to demonstrate that the absence of GM rice has been maintained, before random checks on the consignment were made at EU ports.
The new inspection regime will mean that 100% of all rice consignments from China will be inspected.
In light of the audit findings and continuing alerts, the EU felt it necessary to extend the scope of the original emergency measure put in place three years ago.
The FVO report suggested a level of uncertainty about the number of GM rice contaminations from China.
It established that there is a continued risk of non-authorised GMOs in such rice products.
The EU will use a screening method for Chinese consignments that can detect up to 26 different GM rice types.
Since September 2006, rice products originating in, or consigned, from China contaminated with unauthorised GM rice have been notified through the RASFF.
Despite measures announced by the Chinese authorities to control the presence of unauthorised GM rice, notifications continued to be made by Member States.
In April 2008, the Commission adopted an emergency measure to enforce controls on rice products from China entering Europe.
A report on the 2008 emergency decision said: “Despite reiterated requests by the Commission, the Chinese authorities were unable to provide the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) with control samples and a protocol of a detection method that were qualitively and quantitively appropriate for the JRC to validate the detection method used by the Chinese control authorities.”
It added that the restrictions should “cover only products originating in or consigned from China into the Community and considered likely to be contaminated with the unauthorised genetically modified rice ‘Bt 63’.”
These measures will be reviewed in six months.