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Texts adopted
Thursday, 22 July 1999 - Strasbourg Final edition
Dioxin
B5-0002, 0005, 0010, 0015 and 0017/99

Resolution on contamination by dioxins of foodstuffs in Belgium

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to Commission Decisions 1999/363/EC and 1999/389/EC of 3 June 1999 on protective measures with regard to contamination by dioxins of certain animal products intended for human or animal consumption and Commission Decision 1999/368/EC of 4 June 1999 on protective measures with regard to contamination by dioxins of products intended for human or animal consumption derived from bovine animals and pigs,

-  having regard to the Commissio decisions of 11 June 1999 on protective measures with regard to contamination by dioxins of certain animal products intended for human or animal consumption and amending Decisions 1999/363/EC and 1999/389/EC and the decision on protective measures with regard to contamination by dioxins of products intended for human or animal consumption derived from bovine animals and pigs and revoking Decision 1999/368/EC,

-  having regard to Council Directive 89/662/EEC of 11 December 1989 concerning veterinary checks in intra-Community trade with a view to the completion of the internal market, amended by Directive 92/118/EEC ,

-  having regard to Council Directive 90/425/EEC of 26 June 1990 concerning veterinary and zootechnical checks applicable in intra-Community trade in certain live animals and products with a view to the completion of the internal market, amended by Directive 92/118/EEC ,

-  having regard to the proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive amending Directive 95/53/EC fixing the principles governing the organisation of official inspections in the field of animal nutrition (COM(98)0602 ),

-  having regard to the statements by the members of the Commission responsible for agriculture and the environment made at the hearings on 16 and 17 June 1999 organised by the relevant committees of the European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Council and Commission statements of 22 July 1999,

A.  having regard to the most recent case of contamination by dioxins of poultry products in Belgium and in general to the repeated serious scandals associated with foodstuffs which are proliferating in the Member States of the Community,

B.  whereas dioxins are amongst the most toxic substances known to man; whereas they are known human carcinogens and potent endocrine disrupters which are persistent and accumulate in the food chain due to their bioaccumulative nature,

C.  whereas preventive health and consumer protection must have absolute priority in all measures regarding food safety and whereas thiswas not applied by the Belgian authorities in office at the time, thereby favouring commercial and trade interests;

D.  whereas the European Union must observe the provisions of Article 152 of the Treaty with regard to health policy and Article 153 with regard to consumer protection and whereas in this connection the Commission reacted promptly with the adoption of protective measures with regard to the contamination by dioxins of certain animal products intended for human or animal consumption,

E.  having regard to the right of all citizens to obtain wholesome foodstuffs which do not place their health at risk,

F.  having regard to the increasing concern of consumers with regard to the foodstuffs available on the market; whereas the confidence of these consumers has already been shaken by the BSE crisis and the uncertainty with regard to possible health risks which could be caused by products which contain genetically modified organisms, by the excessive use of pesticides in agriculture and by animal feedingstuffs which contain antibiotics or have excessive amounts of additives,

G.  whereas the threat to humans and animals from excessive levels of dioxins in foodstuffs has been caused by contaminated feedingstuffs but whereas it has its origins in incorrect manufacturing and criminal conduct and whereas the number and the amount of toxic substances arising from production and transport are increasing constantly, entering the food chain at many different levels without being detected as such,

H.  having regard to the economic and financial consequences which this type of scandal has without exception for producers, traders and the whole farming and food industry in the Union,

I.  whereas bioaccumulation and concentration of certain toxins is especially high in meat and milk products which form an important part of the average European diet; whereas EU legislation lacks the necessary framework and means to reduce these toxins at source,

J.  whereas animal feedingstuffs are suspected of being among the main sources of diminishing food safety, as the recycling of animal fats, slaughter offal and many other organic waste products has proved to have led to various forms of fraud and misuse and to unacceptable accumulation of toxins,

1.   Calls on the Commission forthwith to draw up foodstuffs legislation to protect the health of European consumers, reviewing existing legal provisions and how they function and making the necessary amendments;

2.   Is of the opinion that the dioxin scandal is yet another illustration of the need for an EU quality label to reassure consumers about the quality and safety of food on sale in the Member States as set out in its resolution of 9 October 1998(1) ; regrets that this parliamentary initiative has not been followed by any proposed legislation from the Commission;

3.   Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the scientific committee, to lay down minimum quality standards for feedingstuffs and products intended for animal feed and to draw up a list of banned substances which have the potential to endanger human health;

4.   Underlines that the present Community control system for feedingstuffs is inadequate; is of the opinion that the Commission's control competences need to be enhanced in order to undertake the appropriate controls when and where they are considered necessary;

5.   Confirms the need for the European Union to have a common system for the monitoring and control of foodstuffs in every Member State;

6.   Calls on the Commission to strengthen the routine checks on feedingstuffs and to submit to Parliament a report on the results of the examination of the national monitoring programmes, which should have been submitted by the Member States by 1 October 1998 and demands particularly an improved system for monitoring the by-product flow in food processing;

7.   Reiterates its support for the long-standing Commission proposal on reform of Directive 95/53/EC (COM(98)0602 ) fixing the principles governing the organisation of official inspections in the field of animal nutrition to allow EU inspectors to carry out spot checks for contaminated animal feed whenever they wish and not just in emergency cases as is currently the situation; calls therefore on the Council to finally adopt the necessary legislation;

8.   Calls, on the basis of the amended Article 22 of Directive 95/53/EC containing basic rules for the implementation of official feedingstuffs checks, in addition for the immediate submission of the specific Community-wide monitoring programmes which have been announced;

9.   Calls on the Commission to submit proposals with regard to clear declarations on feedingstuffs;

10.   Calls on the Commission and the Council to enhance research and to establish reliable testing methods for identification of toxic substances found in the environment and the food chain;

11.   Reminds Member States of their obligations to undertake comprehensive inspections and hygiene controls; calls on them to enhance transparency by making the inspection reports speedily available to the public; expects Member States to re-examine their control capacities and increase the number of specialized staff if necessary;

12.   Calls on the Commission to make an inquiry about practices of Member States which allow the mixture of highly polluted food with non-polluted food in order to reach an average pollution below the allowed maximum residue values and to put an end to those practices;

13.   Calls on the Commission to support the production of natural and organic foodstuffs and natural feedingstuffs;

14.   Regrets the lack of transparency and care shown by the Belgian government in office at the time with regard to the crisis involving contamination by dioxins of certain animal products intended for human or animal consumption, in particular given the fact that a lesson should have been learned from the earlier BSE crisis;

15.   Is also worried about the possible long-term effects on European agricultural exports; notes the large number of countries which had imposed temporary bans on imports of meat and dairy products from the EU; points out that these measures affected not only Belgium but had wide repercussions on the whole of the European Union and its agricultural trading pattern;

16.   Calls on the Commission to present in a detailed report exactly what measures were taken to protect consumers by Belgium and by other Member States with similar problems and what measures the Member States concerned have adopted and implemented;

17.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)OJ C 328, 26.10.1998, p. 232.

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