MEP welcomes bid to end Europe's GMO impasse

European Parliament rapporteur calls for rapid delivery of new proposals on labelling, traceability

The European Parliament's rapporteur on revision of the EU directive on "deliberate release" of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has welcomed European Commission moves to end the de facto moratorium on new product approvals in place since June 1999.

The initiative from commissioners Margot Wallström and David Byrne aims at getting biotechnology firms to comply voluntarily with tough new authorisation procedures immediately the directive has been agreed at EU level and legal implementation by member states. It also envisages yet-to-be proposed supplementary rules on GMO labelling and traceability (ENDS Daily 13 July).

UK socialist MEP David Bowe of the parliament's environment committee has led the assembly's negotiations on the directive's revision. He and parliamentary colleagues will soon sit down with government representatives to thrash out remaining differences over its wording. Although this process should end within eight weeks, EU member states will not be required to transpose the new rules into national law for at least another year.

"Any rapporteur has to be happy to see [the provisions of his] law go into force as soon as possible," he told ENDS Daily after the environment and consumer affairs commissioners presented their plans to the committee in Strasbourg this week. "The old law is not sufficient. If there's an option for getting things done quicker, we should take it," he said.

For this to happen, Mr Bowe said, the Commission needed to present the supplementary labelling and traceability proposals quickly. It originally promised them by the autumn but the commissioners told MEPs this week that they would now be ready "in the coming months".

"The Commission will have to pick itself up and get a move on," Mr Bowe said, calling for these extra proposals to enter into law "within a matter of months." The only way this could happen would be for EU governments to adopt them in the form of an EU regulation, he said.

Follow Up:
European Parliament environment committee, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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