The EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers had one final chance to reach agreement on updating the Novel Foods Regulation yesterday night (Monday, March 28). The talks failed at around 7am this morning, leaving the status quo in place, where food from cloned animals is subject to a pre-market authorisation.
Parliament wanted a ban on food from cloned animals and their descendents and highlighted negative attitudes towards the technology highlighted in a recent Eurobarometer survey.
MEPs said they were prepared to seek a compromise but said, as a bare minimum there should be a commitment to label all food products from cloned offspring.
The Council and the European Commission agreed that there should be a ban on cloning and that food from these animals should be banned. But they did not want a ban on food derived from the offspring of cloned animals, arguing that such a ban would be impossible to implement.
The Council said that ban would not be compatible with international trade rules that the EU has signed, with Parliament’s consent.
It also questioned whether the labelling requirement could be fully enforced. It said the discussion failed because Parliament could not compromise on its request for mandatory labelling for food derived from offspring of cloned animals ‘irrespective of the technical feasibility and the practical implications of such mandatory labelling’.
The aim of the ‘conciliation procedure’ had been to find a compromise which met consumers’ concerns about marketing and information about foods from cloned animals and their offspring.
The Council had proposed a package of measures to try and address these concerns, including a ban on animal cloning in the EU for food production, a ban on food from cloned animals, whatever their origin, and a ban on any supply of clones in the EU for food production.
Further measures included traceability system for semen and embryos from cloned animals as well as for the live offspring of cloned animals.
Despite its concerns over labelling, the package also included the introduction, within two years of the regulation coming into force, of labelling requirements for fresh meat of the offspring from cattle which would have been extended to all other foods from the offspring of cloned animals.
The failure of talks means that three years of work on the ‘novel foods’ proposal has been lost and proposed improvements to the rules in other areas, such as nanomaterials, will be lost.
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