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European Parliament votes for stricter rules on organic food

Parliament finally adopted on Tuesday the resolution on organic food products which accompanies the detailed - but non-binding - legislative amendments it adopted in late March.

On 29 March MEPs voted for stricter rules governing organic food products on the basis of a consultation report by Marie-Hélène Aubert (France) drawn up in response to the Commission's draft legislation revising the rules on organic products. However, they decided not to vote on their final resolution in order to continue negotiations with the Council so as to have their demands better taken into account.

The Member States refused to accept Parliament's demand for a right of co-decision in this legislation, even though it will also affect processed foods, which according to the Treaty come under this procedure. This week, however, MEPs decided that enough of Parliament's amendments had been accepted by the Council, including some on stricter controls and certification, especially for imports, the clarification of rules on the use of logos and the consultation of interested parties.

Unfortunately, the latest talks did not lead to progress on key points”, commented Aubert, citing in particular the Council's refusal to agree to co-decision and to drop the derogations it wishes to include on the subject of additives produced by GMOs. “But you can count on me to follow this subject closely over the coming months”, she added. The report as adopted by Parliament thus makes a number of amendments to the Commission's draft legislation (although these amendments are not binding on the Council).

In addition to toughening up the controls and clarifying the rules on the use of logos, it recommends lowering to 0.1% the tolerated threshold for accidental contamination by GMOs and strengthening the rules on the use of plant-health and veterinary products.  MEPs had called by an overwhelming majority for the regulation to be subject to co-decision between Parliament and Council, since it does not cover only agricultural production (on which the EP only has the right to be consulted).  They also say the regulation should cover the catering industry and not just retail sales. (EP Press)