European Parliament negotiators have tabled what they described as their “final offer” on the EU’s proposed Novel Foods regulation, warning they will not compromise any further with EU member states.
James Nicholson, a British Conservative MEP who is steering the negotiation on behalf of Parliament said he was now “close to an agreement”.
MEPs want to safeguard the Parliament’s right to scrutinise the EU list of novel foods, which the European Commission will draw up at a later stage. They also want the text clarified about cloning.
“We made a final offer, which is the maximum Parliament can put on the table,” Nicholson said in a statement.
“Cloning and parliamentary oversight over the EU list of novel foods,” are the two issues that still have to be settled before the Parliament can support a first-reading deal, he said.
“We now must wait and see the reaction from both the Commission and the Council. The ball is in their court,” Nicholson added.
In November, MEPs on the Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted to pass a draft report on the Commission’s proposed regulation, which aims to centralise authorisation of novel foods.
The MEPs voted among other things to back the European Food Safety Agency’s (EFSA) definition of ‘nanomaterial’, with a 10% nanoparticle threshold for an ingredient to qualify as ‘nano’.
They also stressed the importance of the “precautionary principle” whereby foods must proven safe before they can be authorised for consumption on the EU market. As for for traditional food imported from third countries, legislators called for clear guidance from EFSA on the data needed to prove a “history of safe use”.
A meeting of EU member state representatives is scheduled on Wednesday (13 May) and could pave the way towards a final agreement on the regulation at the next meeting of agriculture ministers in June, Nicholson said.
An EU proposal for a regulation on novel foods was rejected in 2011 over concerns related to animal cloning.
The discussions mainly focused on the provisions applicable to nanomaterials, the cloning of animals for food production, traditional foods from third countries, the criteria to be examined for the risk assessment and risk management, and to the procedure for the authorisation of novel foods.
A new proposal was tabled in December 2013, which is limited to the safety of novel foods and is based on the overall agreement achieved in Conciliation.
The general criteria for novel food definition remain unchanged: novel foods are foods and food ingredients which were not consumed in the EU to a significant degree before the entry into force (15 May 1997) of the current Novel Food Regulation.
- Health and consumers: Novel Foods and novel food ingredients
- Conciliation committee: Novel foods
- Draft report by James Nicholson: On the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods