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New plant-breeding techniques: Applicability of EU GMO rules

13-11-2020

New plant genetic modification techniques, referred to as 'gene editing' or 'genome editing', have evolved rapidly in recent years, allowing much faster and more precise results than conventional plant-breeding techniques. They are seen as a promising innovative field for the agri-food industry, offering great technical potential. Consumers could benefit from enhanced nutritional quality or reduced allergenicity of food, for example, such as gluten-reduced wheat. There is, however, considerable debate ...

New plant genetic modification techniques, referred to as 'gene editing' or 'genome editing', have evolved rapidly in recent years, allowing much faster and more precise results than conventional plant-breeding techniques. They are seen as a promising innovative field for the agri-food industry, offering great technical potential. Consumers could benefit from enhanced nutritional quality or reduced allergenicity of food, for example, such as gluten-reduced wheat. There is, however, considerable debate as to how these new techniques should be regulated, and whether some or all of them should fall within the scope of EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Those who take the view that the new techniques should be exempt from GMO legislation generally argue that the end product is very similar to products generated using conventional breeding techniques, or that similar changes could also occur naturally. Those who consider that the new techniques should fall within the scope of GMO legislation contend that the processes used mean that plants bred using the new techniques are in fact genetically modified. In July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that genome-edited organisms fall under the scope of European GMO legislation. While welcomed by some, the judgment also sparked criticism and calls for the new European Commission to amend EU GMO legislation. In November 2019, the Council requested that the Commission submit a study in light of the Court of Justice judgment regarding the status of novel genomic techniques (NGTs), by 30 April 2021. This is an updated edition of an October 2019 Briefing.

How the coronavirus pandemic shook up our relationship with food

24-09-2020

First there was panic-buying. There were concerns over safety: could one be infected by food? Realisation of the efforts of supermarket staff, truck drivers and warehouse staff to keep food coming to customers. Spring amidst closed borders awakened us to how much we depend on foreign farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables. There were campaigns for furloughed employees to go and work on farms. Then came news about the conditions endured by some foreign workers in the food-processing industry. The ...

First there was panic-buying. There were concerns over safety: could one be infected by food? Realisation of the efforts of supermarket staff, truck drivers and warehouse staff to keep food coming to customers. Spring amidst closed borders awakened us to how much we depend on foreign farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables. There were campaigns for furloughed employees to go and work on farms. Then came news about the conditions endured by some foreign workers in the food-processing industry. The rollercoaster of the coronavirus crisis has changed our relationship with food, but whether just temporarily or for good, remains to be seen.

Nutrition labelling schemes used in Member States

27-07-2020

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on ...

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on the front of food packaging, aiming to help consumers with their food choices. Under the current EU rules, the indication of nutrition information on the front of packaging is not mandatory but could be provided on a voluntary basis. Some Member States have already introduced voluntary schemes to help consumers to identify healthier products. The Commission announces in its new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, launched in May 2020, that it will propose a mandatory harmonised front-of‑pack nutrition labelling system by the end of 2022. Consumer and health associations broadly consider that FOP nutrition labelling plays a key role in helping consumers make more informed, healthier food choices. There is, however, also criticism of such schemes, arguing that they are over-simplified and can mislead consumers. In its resolution on the European Green Deal, adopted in January 2020, the European Parliament welcomes the plan for a sustainable food system strategy, as well as the Commission’s intention to explore new ways to give consumers better information, and calls on the Commission to consider improved food labelling.

New plant-breeding techniques: Applicability of EU GMO rules

10-10-2019

New plant genetic modification techniques, referred to as 'gene editing' or 'genome editing', have evolved rapidly in recent years, allowing much faster and more precise results than conventional plant-breeding techniques. They are seen as a promising innovative field for the agri-food industry, offering great technical potential. There is, however, considerable debate as to how these new techniques should be regulated, and whether some or all of them should fall within the scope of EU legislation ...

New plant genetic modification techniques, referred to as 'gene editing' or 'genome editing', have evolved rapidly in recent years, allowing much faster and more precise results than conventional plant-breeding techniques. They are seen as a promising innovative field for the agri-food industry, offering great technical potential. There is, however, considerable debate as to how these new techniques should be regulated, and whether some or all of them should fall within the scope of EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Those who take the view that the new techniques should be exempt from GMO legislation generally argue that the end product is very similar to products generated using conventional breeding techniques, or that similar changes could also occur naturally. Those who consider that the new techniques should fall within the scope of GMO legislation contend that the processes used mean that plants bred using the new techniques are in fact genetically modified. In July 2018, the European Court of Justice gave a judgment ruling that genome-edited organisms fall under the scope of European GMO legislation. While welcomed by some, the judgment has also sparked criticism and calls for the new European Commission to amend EU GMO legislation. This is an updated edition of a 2016 Briefing.

Reconsidering the General Food Law

30-09-2019

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal to review the General Food Law Regulation and amend eight legislative acts dealing with specific food chain sectors. The proposal follows up on the European Citizens' Initiative on glyphosate; and especially on concerns regarding the transparency of the scientific studies used in the evaluation of pesticides. The proposal also responds to a fitness check of the General Food Law, completed in January 2018. The proposal's objective is to ...

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal to review the General Food Law Regulation and amend eight legislative acts dealing with specific food chain sectors. The proposal follows up on the European Citizens' Initiative on glyphosate; and especially on concerns regarding the transparency of the scientific studies used in the evaluation of pesticides. The proposal also responds to a fitness check of the General Food Law, completed in January 2018. The proposal's objective is to increase the transparency and sustainability of the EU scientific assessment model, and other aspects such as governance of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In the European Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 27 November 2018. A vote in plenary to finalise Parliament's position took place on 11 December and the Council adopted its position on 12 December 2018. A provisional agreement was reached in trilogue on 11 February 2019 and endorsed in the ENVI committee on 20 February. The European Parliament adopted the text at first reading on 17 April; the Council adopted it on 13 June. The final act, signed on 20 June, was published in the Official Journal on 6 September 2019 and is applicable, for the most part, from 27 March 2021.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Stella Kyriakides - Health

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Spirit drinks: Definition, labelling and geographical indications

28-05-2019

In December 2016, the European Commission proposed to replace Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 – the Spirit Drinks Regulation – with a new one, with the aim of aligning it with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The proposal mainly involves grouping the provisions adopted by the Commission into delegated and implementing acts. In addition, it replaces the existing procedures for the protection of geographical indications (GIs) of spirit drinks with new ones, modelled on the recently ...

In December 2016, the European Commission proposed to replace Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 – the Spirit Drinks Regulation – with a new one, with the aim of aligning it with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The proposal mainly involves grouping the provisions adopted by the Commission into delegated and implementing acts. In addition, it replaces the existing procedures for the protection of geographical indications (GIs) of spirit drinks with new ones, modelled on the recently updated procedures for quality schemes applied to agricultural products and foodstuffs. According to spirits industry representatives, the proposal contained some substantive changes that needed to be studied in detail to determine their impact. The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) was responsible for the file in the European Parliament. A provisional agreement was reached at the third trilogue meeting, on 27 November 2018. The agreement was confirmed by the Special Committee on Agriculture in December 2018 and approved in the ENVI committee on 22 January 2019. A plenary vote in the EP was held on 13 March 2019. The act was signed on 17 April and the regulation published in the Official Journal on 17 May 2019. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Revision of the Drinking Water Directive

15-04-2019

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive). The proposal responds to the European Citizens' Initiative, Right2Water, and builds on a fitness check which concluded that the 20-year old directive is fit for purpose, but needs updating. The main elements of the proposal consist of updating the water quality standards, introducing a risk-based approach to the monitoring ...

On 1 February 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a recast of the Directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (the Drinking Water Directive). The proposal responds to the European Citizens' Initiative, Right2Water, and builds on a fitness check which concluded that the 20-year old directive is fit for purpose, but needs updating. The main elements of the proposal consist of updating the water quality standards, introducing a risk-based approach to the monitoring of water, improving and streamlining the information provided to consumers, harmonising the standards for products in contact with drinking water, and imposing obligations to improve access to water. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 10 September 2018. A plenary vote on the amendments, and on opening interinstitutional negotiations, took place on 23 October 2018. Although the Council reached a general approach on 5 March 2019, the Parliament concluded its first reading in plenary on 28 March 2019. Trilogue negotiations in view of reaching an early-second reading agreement could thus begin in the new parliamentary term.

Transparencia de la evaluación del riesgo en la cadena alimentaria

10-04-2019

A raíz de las controversias surgidas en torno a la autorización y la renovación de las autorizaciones de determinados productos sensibles, como los organismos modificados genéticamente (OMG) y las sustancias activas en los productos fitosanitarios (glifosato, neonicotinoides), la Comisión Europea ha propuesto la revisión y armonización de las normas de transparencia en estos ámbitos políticos. En el periodo parcial de sesiones de diciembre de 2018 se llevó a cabo una votación para ultimar la posición ...

A raíz de las controversias surgidas en torno a la autorización y la renovación de las autorizaciones de determinados productos sensibles, como los organismos modificados genéticamente (OMG) y las sustancias activas en los productos fitosanitarios (glifosato, neonicotinoides), la Comisión Europea ha propuesto la revisión y armonización de las normas de transparencia en estos ámbitos políticos. En el periodo parcial de sesiones de diciembre de 2018 se llevó a cabo una votación para ultimar la posición del Parlamento. Un acuerdo provisional alcanzado en las negociaciones tripartitas del 11 de febrero de 2019 está ahora a la espera de la aprobación final del Parlamento en primera lectura durante el período parcial de sesiones de abril II.

Transparencia de la determinación del riesgo en la cadena alimentaria de la UE

05-12-2018

A raíz de las controversias surgidas en torno a la autorización y la renovación de las autorizaciones de determinados productos sensibles, como las sustancias activas en los productos fitosanitarios (glifosato, neonicotinoides) y los organismos modificados genéticamente (OMG), la Comisión Europea propuso revisar las normas de transparencia en estos ámbitos políticos. Está previsto que el Parlamento Europeo vote, durante su periodo parcial de sesiones de diciembre, el informe de la Comisión de Medio ...

A raíz de las controversias surgidas en torno a la autorización y la renovación de las autorizaciones de determinados productos sensibles, como las sustancias activas en los productos fitosanitarios (glifosato, neonicotinoides) y los organismos modificados genéticamente (OMG), la Comisión Europea propuso revisar las normas de transparencia en estos ámbitos políticos. Está previsto que el Parlamento Europeo vote, durante su periodo parcial de sesiones de diciembre, el informe de la Comisión de Medio Ambiente, Salud Pública y Seguridad Alimentaria (ENVI), así como un mandato para iniciar negociaciones interinstitucionales.

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