Food Law News - EU - 2007

Council Minutes (14178/07), 30 October 2007

GMOs - Council discussions on Austrian safeguard measures: no agreement reached

The following is an extract from the minutes of the 2826th Council meeting (Environment) of 130 October 2007

The Council was invited to act on two proposals for Decisions (13701/07 and 13702/07) partly repealing the provisional safeguard measures applied by Austria in respect of the use and sale of genetically modified maize lines MON 810 and T 25.

After views had been canvassed, it was found that the qualified majority required for adoption or rejection of the proposals could not be obtained. It is therefore up to the Commission to act on the proposed Decisions.

Maize lines MON 810 and T 25

By Decision of 22 April 1998, the Commission consented to the placing on the market of maize lines MON 810 and T 25 for all product uses (import, processing into food and feed products and cultivation). On 2 June 1999, Austria informed the Commission of its decision provisionally to prohibit the placing on the market of maize lines MON 810 and T 25 for all uses covered by the consent.

Following the entry into force of a new Directive on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms (Directive 2001/18/EC (OJ L 106, 17.4.2001, p. 1)), the Commission requested Austria to reconsider its safeguard clause. Austria provided the Commission with additional information in support of its position. The Commission consulted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded in July 2004 that the information provided by Austria did not constitute new scientific evidence sufficient to justify prohibition of the use and sale in Austria of maize lines MON 810 and T 25.

On the basis of that opinion, the Commission submitted proposals for Decisions requesting Austria to repeal its provisional safeguard measures. On 24 June 2005, the Council rejected these proposals by qualified majority on the grounds that it needed additional evidence.

In November 2005, the EFSA was again consulted by the Commission and asked in particular to take account of any scientific information obtained since the previous scientific opinion. In the opinion given on 29 March 2006, the EFSA concluded that there was nothing to suggest that continuing to place on the market maize lines MON 810 and T 25 could have adverse effects on human and animal health or the environment under the conditions on which consent was given.

Consequently, the Commission submitted new proposals to the Council requesting Austria to repeal the safeguard measures concerning maize lines MON 810 and T 25. On 18 December 2006, the Council rejected these proposals through decisions which refer solely to the environmental aspects of the safeguard clause, i.e. cultivation.

The food and feed safety aspects of maize lines MON 810 and T 25 have been assessed by the EFSA, which concluded that these products were unlikely to have any adverse effects on human and animal health. Accordingly, the Commission thought that its proposals should be amended to cover solely the food and feed aspects of the Austrian prohibition. The Commission has therefore submitted amended proposals to the Council.

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