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Food Policy News
EU and global policy concerning the production, distribution, and consumption of food
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EU Smarter Rules for Safer Food - the Animal & Plant Health Package

EU Smarter Rules for Safer Food - the Animal & Plant Health Package | Food Policy News | Scoop.it

The European Commission has adopted on Monday 6 May 2013 a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain.

The package of measures provide a modernised and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain. Five draft regulations are put into adoption procedure with other EU institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council. The main four are foreseen to be adopted in next 2 years:

- Official controls,

- Animal health,

- Plant health,

- Plant reproductive material (including seeds)

 

The current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. The package of reform will cut this down to 5 pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession.

Knapco's insight:

The package is particularly relevant in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

"Restoring the trust and confidence of our citizens and trading partners is key given that the agri-food industry is the second largest economic sector in the EU, employing over 48 million people and is worth some €750 billion a year," he said.

"Let me highlight three issues that will be dealt with in the context of the proposal with respect to this issue as proposed in the control regulation :

Firstly: sanctions for operators who commit fraud will be commensurate to the economic gain as a result of fraud

Secondly: the legislation now enables the Commission to require testing and controls in areas such as food fraud and not only to recommend as has currently been the case

Thirdly: the legislation now requires that official controls should also be unannounced in order to strengthen our tools to fight fraud."

The legislation requires that official controls should also be unannounced in order to strengthen the tools to fight fraud.

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Knapco's curator insight, May 6, 2013 11:22 AM

As announced by the commissioner Borg, the EU's from farm-to-fork policy aims to ensure a high level of health for humans, animals and plants through the development of risk based rules as well as preventing, managing and mitigating risks that threaten our food chain. The package is particularly relevant in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

The legislation requires that official controls should also be unannounced in order to strengthen the tools to fight fraud.

"Another key part of the Commission's proposal is extending and strengthening the financing of the effective implementation of these controls but it must be noted that microenterprises will be exempted from the new fees system – but not from controls," said commissioner Borg.

 

He stressed the importance of plant health. Crops that are grown in the EU account for €205 billion annually. Europe's agriculture, forest and natural heritage are being threatened by the introduction of new pest species as a result of globalisation and climate change. The proposal aims to address these threats by upgrading the existing plant health regime; increasing the traceability of plant material; focusing on high risk trade and providing better surveillance and early eradication of outbreaks of new pest species as well as providing financial compensation for growers.

 

Borg has highlighted that 60% of the world export value in seeds originates from the EU. With this in mind, this reform provides simpler and more flexible rules for the marketing of seeds and other plant reproductive material to ensure the productivity; adaptability and diversity to Europe's crop production and to facilitate their trade.

"Our aim is to introduce a broader choice for the users thus including new improved and tested varieties, material not fulfilling the variety definition (heterogeneous material), traditional varieties and niche market material. This will contribute to protection of biodiversity and to breeding oriented towards sustainable agriculture," he said at today's launche of the package.

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Europe’s pesticide and food safety regulators – Who do they work for?

Claire Robinson asks this question based on report published by Earth Open Source in April 2011:

"The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is charged with giving scientific advice to the regulators of pesticides, genetically modified (GM) foods, and food contaminants and additives, in the interests of protecting public health. But some prominent EFSA experts and officials have conflicts of interest, holding positions in organisations funded by the same companies whose products they help regulate."

 

EFSA has its own policy on declaration of interests for experts, giving their independent scientific advice at the level of risk assessment, done in Parma (Italy). Their reports and opinions are indeed used as a technical basis in regulatory procedures of the European Commission and its sanding committees in Brussels (Belgium). But risk assessors in Parma are far from regulators in Brussels and are not involved in legislation drafting. Procedures in both institutions are so complex (EU citizens even think that they are too complicated) that an individual opinion of single expert has very little influence.  

 

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EUROPA - Plant health: EU steps up assistance to help fight dangerous organisms

EUROPA - Plant health: EU steps up assistance to help fight dangerous organisms | Food Policy News | Scoop.it

European Commission - Plant health:

 

EU steps up assistance to help fight dangerous organisms. In November 2011 the European Union earmarked 19 million euros to co-finance programmes in seven Member States aiming to combat organisms harmful to plants and to prevent them from spreading further in the Union and thus from having sever consequences on the internal market and environment.

 

Most of the funds (€6 million) will be devoted to the control of the outbreaks in Portugal of pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus), which is a microscopic nematode attacking coniferous trees. European coniferous species are highly susceptible and the pest could devastate the European pine forests. An additional €4 million financing of the actions will assist to contain pinewood nematode within the existing demarcated zone. This, in turn, will help to safeguard the territory of the other Member States and protect Union trade interests in relation to third countries.

 

€1.1 million will be made available to Spain to control the island apple snail (Pomacea insularum), one of the largest freshwater snails, which attacks rice plots and can also have devastating effects on natural wetlands. The size of the potentially endangered rice area in the EU is 420.000 hectares. Up to now, there is only one known outbreak in the EU, in the Ebro Delta (Catalonia).

 

Money will also be allocated to control two types of beetles in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – the Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) and the Chinese longhorn beetle (Anoplophora chinensis). Both insects attack a wide range of harwood plant species and were introduced from Asia. Moreover, funds will be made available to control the red palm weevil (Rynchophorus ferrugineus) in Cyprus and Malta, which attacks palm trees.

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