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EU proposes to harmonise GM food tolerance policy

The 27 member states endorse a proposal to allow a 0.1 per cent presence of genetic modification in food.
Feb 22nd 2011, 5:19 PM 873 1

THE MEMBERS of the European Union have voted to endorse a proposal that would see the current ‘zero tolerance’ policy on non-authorised genetically modified foods harmonised throughout the Union.

At a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health today, member states endorsed the proposal of the European Commission, which would see food with a modification level of below 0.1 per cent be overlooked by the European Union’s GMO Reference Laboratory.

Food with a GM content below that amount would, as a result, be approved for sale within all 27 member states, including Ireland.

The policy is still, however, referred to by the member states as a ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

The new rules, a European Commission spokesman said in a statement, are limited to genetically modified food authorised for commercialisation in non-EU countries, which does not have a current authorisation within the EU itself.

“Feed will be considered non-compliant with EU legislation when the presence of this GM feed material is, after due consideration of the margin of error, above the technical zero,” the statement said.

“It will also improve the legal certainty for importers of food,” it added, saying affected imports from Argentina, Brazil and the United States were “an essential supplement for the EU’s livestock sector.”

The draft regulations are now sent to the European Parliament and the European Council, made up of the agriculture and food ministers from the 27 member states, for their consideration.

If neither institution opposes the rule, it will be formally adopted by the Commission in three months’ time.

The agreement means the next Minister for Agriculture will have to decide whether to continue the policy being laid down by outgoing minister Brendan Smith, who earlier this month said he had changed his voting position and would back a proposal to allow food with GM ingredients to be sold in Ireland.

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Gavan Reilly

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