Written Q&A to EU Commission – Suspension of GM MON810 maize cultivation in France

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Marc Tarabella (S&D)

25th August 2014

Subject:  Suspension of MON 810 genetically modified maize

On 1 August, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued an opinion dismissing the use by the French Government of the safeguard clause to ban the cultivation of MON 810 genetically modified maize in France. The EFSA concluded that, in view of the documents provided by France, there was no specific piece of scientific evidence in terms of risk to human or animal health or the environment that would justify the adoption of an emergency measure in respect of the cultivation of MON 810 genetically modified maize.

In Paris, the General Association of Maize Producers (AGPM), affiliated to the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), has noted that the European Food Safety Authority has for the third time invalided the government’s argument invoking the risk of serious and irreversible damage to the environment.

1. Does the Commission intend to follow the EFSA’s opinion (given that it has not always done so in the past)?

2. What about the precautionary principle?

3. If the French Government continues to invoke the safeguard clause, might it take enforcement measures?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission – 10th October 2014

1. Under currently applicable legislation, cultivation bans of maize MON 810 enacted by Member States must be justified by evidence demonstrating that the use of this product is likely to constitute a serious risk to health or to the environment (Article 34 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003). The Commission requested EFSA to examine the scientific elements provided by France to justify their MON810 cultivation ban, and EFSA concluded on 31 July 2014 that there is no specific scientific evidence that would support that emergency measure.

2. Provisions such as Article 34 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 constitute an implementation of the precautionary principle into the GMO legislation. Against this background, it should be underlined that the application of the precautionary principle presupposes that, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful effects on health or on the environment is identified, even if scientific uncertainty persists. This possibility has not been confirmed by EFSA in its scientific opinion.

3. The legal developments in France concerning the ban of the cultivation of maize MON 810 illustrate the need to provide in the legislation other ways to give Member States more flexibility in deciding on GMO cultivation on their territory. That is precisely the objective of the Cultivation proposal made by the Commission in 2010 and which is currently in second reading before the European Parliament and the Council.

(Source: European Parliament)

Food recall in EU – Week 36/2014

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we have one recall from consumers in EU in the alert notifications:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella Typhimurium in dried ginger powder, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Finland.

Between the information for follow-up notifications, we can find another recall from consumers:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Norovirus in frozen precooked mussels, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Italy.

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria Monocytogenes in frozen meat skewer, following company’s own check. Origin Austria, notified by Netherlands;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella in sweet peppers powder, following an official control on the market. Origin Spain, notified by Netherlands.

Amongst border rejections we have:

– aflatoxins in groundnuts from India (dispatched from Egypt), in shelled pistachios from Turkey and in raw shelled groundnuts from Brazil;

– poor temperature control of frozen tuna loins from Papua New Guinea;

– Salmonella anatum in frozen boneless beef tenderloin from Uruguay;

– Salmonella and carbendazim in paan leaves from India;

– attempt to illegally import paan leaves from Bangladesh and frozen bovine tongues from Brazil;

– thiophanate-methyl in sweet peppers from Turkey;

– unauthorised substance carbofuran in eggplants from the Dominican Republic;

– malathion in dried mung beans from Ethiopia;

– absence of health certificate(s) for dried oloyin beans from Nigeria;

– pyrimethanil, penconazole, iprodione, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, tetraconazole, indoxacarb, famoxadone, methoxyfenozide, difenoconazole, azoxystrobin, boscalid, myclobutanil, mandipropamid, pyraclostrobin and proquinazid in vine leaves in brine from Turkey.

For feed, we have a border rejection for spoilage of cotton seeds from Argentina infested with moulds and for Salmonella in dog chews.. In Germany we have also a seizure of maize from Serbia (via Netherlands), due to the presence of aflatoxins.

For food contact materials we have:

an information for attention notification, followed by a recall from consumers:

Migration of bis(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DOTP) from lids of glass jars containing red chili paste, following company’s own check. Origin Thailand, notified by Finland, distributed also to Estonia;

an alert notification, followed by a withdrawal from the market:

– Migration of lead from porcelain plates, following a border control. Origin China (via Hong Kong), notified by Latvia, distributed also to Estonia and Lithuania.

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