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Page last update: 25/12/2008

GMOs, Monitoring: EU expands genetic 'radar' to new Member States in 2004

The enlargement of the Europe Union has involved a lot of complicated logistics. Shortly before the historic day on 1 May, the ten new Member States became part of an EU-wide network for the detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

On 1 May, the European Union embraced 75 million new citizens in ten countries in its biggest enlargement ever. Nearly half a billion Europeans in 25 nations have chosen to extend the borders of Europe further than they have ever stretched.

EU expansion was already a reality in some sectors even earlier. At the end of April, 24 national enforcement laboratories in the 10 acceding countries joined the European Network of Genetically Modified Organisms Laboratories (ENGL), bringing its total membership to 71 labs.
“Providing a harmonised GMO detection system across Europe will provide consumers with greater choice and accuracy in selecting food products and will boost the competitiveness of EU biotech companies,” observed European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “We are committed to ensuring the full respect of EU legislation when it comes to GM plants and their derived food and feed products.”

Underwriting consumer choice
Coordinated by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the ENGL’s mission is to enforce new EU labelling and traceability legislation. They will assist the JRC in establishing a harmonised system for tracing GMOs.
“An enlarged ENGL will greatly improve the network’s ability to detect and screen GMOs and provide a sound scientific basis for enforcing biotechnology legislation,” read a Commission statement.

In addition to ensuring the safety of food products, the ENGL also helps underwrite consumer choice between GM and non-GM products.
Last month, tough new Union legislation on the labelling and traceability of GMOs entered into force to ensure the ‘co-existence’ of GM, conventional and organic foods. The rules mean that any food containing more than 0.9% GMOs has to be clearly labelled as such. For the first time, the new regime covers animal feed, as well as food destined for human consumption.
The new rules also state that GMOs must be traceable throughout the entire production and distribution process. This obliges seed and crop producers to inform any purchaser of the presence of GMOs.

The new legislation named the JRC as the ‘Community Reference Laboratory’ (CRL) with the role of coordinating the validation of detection methods. Applications for GM food or feed can now only be granted if the CRL decides that the applicant's methods are accurate and effective in detecting GMOs in food and feed samples.

Source: EU sources
More Information:
Commission press release
Text of new regulation in the Official Journal [PDF document - 118 Kb]

Last update: 25 December 2008 | Top