The European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee reaffirmed on May 4th the House's resolution of September 3rd 2008 to entirely exclude dairy products and meat derived from cloned animals and their offspring from the EU's novel foods regulation.
The Commission's Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) adopted on 28-29 September 2005 an opinion which concluded that there are "major gaps in the knowledge necessary for risk assessment. These include nanoparticle characterization, the detection and measurement of nanoparticles, the dose-response, fate, and persistence of nanoparticles in humans and in the environment, and all aspects of toxicology and environmental toxicology related to nanoparticles"; furthermore, the SCENIHR opinion concludes that "existing toxicological and eco-toxicological methods may not be sufficient to address all of the issues arising in relation to nanoparticles".
The proposal to update the regulation on novel foods aims to simplify and centralize the procedure for authorizing them, so as to safeguard food safety and human health. Only novel foods which are included on the Community list (after assessment by the European Food Safety Authority), may be placed on the market.
Novel foods are defined as those which have not been consumed to any significant degree in the EU before May 1997, when the first legislation on novel foods was introduced. They include foods that are newly-developed, such as foods produced by new production processes like nanotechnology, but also foods traditionally consumed only outside the EU.
MEPs reaffirmed their determination to exclude food derived from cloned animals and to ensure certain safety and labelling requirements are in place for authorizing food produced with the aid of nanotechnology. The aim is to achieve a high level of food safety, as well as consumer, environmental and animal health protection, based on the precautionary principle.
MEPs voted in favor of entirely excluding food derived from cloned animals and their offspring from the scope of this legislation. The Commission's initial proposal would have included food derived from cloned animals but not their offspring, and the Council was in favor of including food from cloned animals and their offspring. MEPs asked the Commission to present a separate legislative proposal to prohibit food derived from cloned animals and their offspring.
MEPs said foods produced by nanotechnology processes must remain excluded from the Community list until they have undergone specific and adequate risk assessments, and the possible health effects of materials at nano scale are better understood. The draft legislation defines engineered nano-materials as having one or more dimensions less than 100 nm. All ingredients present in the form of nano-materials will need to be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients.
Before a novel food is included in the Community list of those accepted in the EU, the opinion of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies on the ethical and environmental implications must be sought when necessary, said MEPs.
The co-decision report by Kartika Liotard was approved in committee at the second reading with 42 votes in favor, 2 against and 3 abstentions. The plenary vote is currently scheduled for July.
Source: European Parliament