The European Parliament's environment committee today voted on proposals to revise EU rules on novel foods, foods or foodstuffs that only recently started being consumed (1). The Greens hailed the outcome of the vote, which included very strong provisions on food from clones and the use of nanomaterials in food. After the vote, Green food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said:
"Parliament has today sent strong signals on how the EU and its institutions should deal with novel foods. There are legitimate concerns about the impacts of these new types of foods - whether on human health, the environment or animal welfare - and it behoves the EU institutions to act responsibly and apply the precautionary principle (2), rather than rushing gung-ho ahead with new foods.
"MEPs have voted to send the EU Commission back to the drawing board with its flawed proposals on food from clones. The vote also called for all food from clones and their descendants to be clearly labelled until there is specific legislation dealing with clone food. There are real concerns with clone food, whether as regards about the impact on genetic diversity or animal welfare and it is grossly irresponsible to just ignore these.
"The committee also voted for a moratorium on 'nano-foods' until there are specific risk assessment methods in place enabling the European Food Safety Authority to assess the use of nano-materials in food. The vote also called on the Commission to address the use of nano-materials in food packaging and ensure only approved substances can be used in packaging. We cannot push blindly ahead with this technology without properly assessing the risks for human health."
(1) The EU regulates novel foods - foods that do not have a history of significant consumption prior to 1997 - with specific legislation: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/novelfood/index_en.htm.
(2) The European Commission has been committed to applying the precautionary principle to EU policy on the environment, animal and plant health.