AGRI Committee prepares its opinion on Novel Foods

The European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development met to discuss the draft opinion on novel foods.

Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.

Laurențiu Rebega (S&D, RO) spoke on behalf of the draftsperson, who said that she only had a few days to draw up the opinion and planned to include further amendments on nanomaterials and products from third countries. There was no agreement between the European Parliament, Commission and Council on this issue in the past, due to questions of cloned animals and food traceability. Therefore the Commission had put forward two different regulations. She hoped that both matters would be dealt with promptly, with no feet dragging. Unfortunately the Commission wants to update their list of novel foods through delegated acts. She hoped that during the negotiations, the role of the European Parliament would be taken into account with consultations on updates of the list. She was concerned about administrative burdens for operators. She believed that there should be a reintroduction of categories and would introduce amendments on this issue. She gave the example of foods from algae/fungi/microorganisms, food that have a history of safe use, foods containing insects, and so on. On the definition of nanomaterials, this should be in line with the regulation on engineered nanomaterials in food. She did not believe that there was a need for new deadlines. EFSA should put forward guidelines on ensuring that operators comply with requirements on safe use. She agreed with generic guidelines and looked forward to next steps in the committee.

José Bové (Greens/EFA, FR) said that there had been two aspects, with cloning on one hand and novel foods based on nanotechnologies on the other. He said that there is no basis or scientific data on the second issue. This has also been noted by EFSA. If the discussion was accepted, this could lead to a lot of difficulties. EFSA does not have sufficient funding or information, meaning that it would have to take the focus from other areas. In the agrifood sector, he said that a lot of pressure is being put on nanotechnologies. No-one knows what the possible consequences are. His group would fight to ban nanotechnologies in food.

Pilar Ayuso (EPP, ES) said that this was a good proposal. According to the report, novel foods are those that fall within the established timeline. She said that this definition needs to be re-established. All of those not considered novel foods prior to 1997 need to remain on the list. It would also be good to look at food use in third countries, because this is far too ambiguous. There need to be clearer definitions on this issue.

John Stuart Agnew (EFDD, UK) said that the last time this was discussed, he mentioned bushmeat. The document said that this should meet the same standards, but he noted that this is not as easy as stated, as this meat is brought in by illicit means. He said that these animals can contain Ebola and are eaten without proper regulation. He said that this should be taken as seriously as discussions on GMOs.


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