Tag Archives EU

The Environment and Agriculture committees of the European Parliament have approved a draft bill that would ban the cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them. The legislation would prohibit both the cloning within the EU and the importation of cloned animals from other countries. “We are well aware that cloning is allowed in certain third countries that EU trades with, but we cannot allow these products to be placed on the EU market,” Giulia Moi, an Italian Member of the European Parliament, said in a press release. “We also want to ensure that cloning of animals would not become a common practice within the EU.” The proposed law would require the import certificates for animals, animal germinal products, food and feed of animal origin to indicate that the products are not derived from cloned animals. The European Parliament will vote on the bill at a…

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has found that a correct and complete list of ingredients can be part of an overall misleading food label in a case challenging a German tea company’s “Felix Raspberry and Vanilla Adventure” (“Felix Himbeer-Vanille Abenteuer”) product for having no flavorings derived from raspberries or vanilla. Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen und Verbraucherverbände v. Teekanne GmbH & Co. KG, No. C-195/14 (E.C.J., order entered June 4, 2015). Teekanne advertises its tea product as fruit tea with natural flavorings and a raspberry-vanilla taste, and the label features depictions of raspberries and vanilla flowers and a seal indicating the product contains only natural ingredients. The ingredient list includes “natural flavouring with a taste of vanilla” and “natural flavouring with a taste of raspberry,” according to the court. “That list thus expresses, in a manner free from doubt, the fact that the flavourings used are not obtained from vanilla and raspberries but…

The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has alleged that companies used “numerous tactics from the corporate lobbyist playbook” to persuade several European Commission departments to obstruct the Directorate-General of the Environment (DG Environment) in its attempts to regulate endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In particular, the CEO report claims that groups representing the chemical and plastics sectors not only promoted their own studies “as the only ‘sound science,’” but used the threat of economic damage as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations “as a leverage to prevent any new ‘trade barrier.’” “By early Spring 2013, since DG Environment did not bend under the pressure, the corporate lobby focused on demanding an impact assessment as a delaying tactic,” opines the report. “In a culmination of fierce lobbying pressure, DG Environment’s proposal for scientific criteria to identify EDCs was finally rejected by the other DGs in the Commission. Moreover, in…

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has announced a June 17, 2015, workshop in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss supplementary guidance for the allergenicity assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). According to the agency, the supplementary guidance aims to reflect technological and scientific advances as well as assessment methodologies developed since EFSA finalized the current guidance in 2011. The Working Group of EFSA’s GMO Panel requests feedback from member states, international partners, academia, non-governmental organizations and industry on the following topics: (i) non-IgEmediated immune adverse reactions to foods; (ii) in vitro digestibility tests for allergenicity assessment; and (iii) endogenous allergenicity. The June workshop will feature the work of 90 experts with a focus on molecular allergology, protein chemistry, plant science, clinical allergy, gastroenterology, food chemistry, and risk assessment. See EFSA News Release, April 14, 2015.   Issue 562

The European Commission (EC) is convening a meeting to “inform Member States, Members of the European Parliament, third country representatives and stakeholders about the ongoing impact assessment on criteria to identify endocrine disruptors and to provide a platform for further exchanges of views” on June 1, 2015, at the Centre Albert Burschette in Brussels, Belgium. Sessions at the day-long event will include discussions of (i) the impact assessment vis à vis the plant protection products regulation and biocide products regulation; (ii) establishing criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors and assessing that criteria in a regulatory context; and (iii) potential impacts on health, the environment, trade, agriculture, consumers, and the food and pesticide industries. The registration deadline is May 19. See EFSA News Release, April 23, 2015.   Issue 562

Three studies published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism have sought to quantify “the burden of disease and associated costs attributable to EDC [endocrine-disrupting chemical] exposures in the European Union.” Supported by the Endocrine Society, the research responds, in part, to the EU Commission’s request for an impact assessment that addresses the economic implications of restricting, phasing out or authorizing certain EDCs. To this end, the studies discuss the costs associated with EDCs and their alleged link to obesity and diabetes, male reproductive disorders, and neurobehavioral deficits and diseases. Using “the midpoint of each range for probability of causation” by EDCs, a fourth paper estimates the overall median cost of these diseases and disorders at $209 billion annually in Europe. “The primary finding of this manuscript is that there is a substantial probability of very high disease costs across the life span associated with EDC exposure in the EU,” note the authors.…

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Fraunhofer Nanotechnology and Food Chain Management alliances have organized a two-day public event on March 5-6, 2015, in Berlin to discuss a range of risk-related issues related to the use of nanomaterials. Symposium topics will include (i) European Food Safety Agency guidance on nanomaterials, (ii) the NanoDefine project, (iii) migration potential of nanomaterials in food contact plastics, (iv) inhalation toxicology, and (v) public acceptance of nanotechnology. Charged with “providing information on possible, identified and assessed risks which foods, substances and products may entail for consumers,” BfR reports to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.   Issue 553

Confirming a December 2014 “hand-shake” agreement, the European Parliament has reportedly approved a law giving member states the authority to regulate the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within their borders. Until the new rules take effect in spring 2015, EU member states can limit cultivation of approved GMOs only if they present new evidence to the European Food Safety Authority that demonstrates the crop is not safe for consumption. The new rules allow member states to prohibit GMO growth and cultivation on several grounds, including “town and country planning requirements, socio-economic impact, avoiding the unintended presence of GMOs in other products and farm policy objectives.” The legislation also creates a procedure allowing a GMO crop company to consent to proposed restrictions to avoid a unilateral ban on its product. Additional information about the 2014 political agreement appears in Issue 548 of this Update. See European Parliament Press Release, January 13,…

A “hand-shake” agreement between the European Union’s Parliament and Council will reportedly end an ongoing dispute over member state control of internal food markets in relation to genetically modified organism (GMO) cultivation. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Adriukaitis reportedly said, “The agreement, if confirmed, would meet member states’ consistent calls since 2009, to have a final say on whether or not GMOs can be cultivated on their territory, in order to better take into account their national context and, above all, the views of their citizens.” Under the proposal, each EU country would have the authority to prohibit or restrict GMO cultivation for reasons other than food safety, including those involving socioeconomic effects, environmental concerns and agricultural policy goals. Current law allows member states to petition the European Food Safety Authority to limit such cultivation, but they must present scientific evidence showing the product is not safe to…

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a risk assessment in response to the European Commission’s urgent request for scientific advice on the H5N8 avian influenza A virus detected in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Focusing on the role of wild birds as vectors, EFSA plans to release a December 2014 report that will provide risk managers “with independent scientific advice and assistance on animal health and welfare related to avian influenza and any possible food safety issues.” See EFSA News Release, November 26, 2014. In a related development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has amended an interim rule restricting the importation of live birds and poultry, hatching eggs and poultry products “from regions where any subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is considered to exist.” Effective December 1, 2014, the final rule now permits the importation of HPAI-resistant species, including pigeons…

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