Technically unavoidable? Or just politically wished for?

[img_assist|nid=108|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=43]On 10 October 2007, the EU standing committee on GMOs came up with a decision that takes some time to digest - literally.

The Committee proposes that the EU should give the GM potato Amflora an authorisation als "adventitious presence". Just to recap: Amflora (EH92-527-1) has no approval to be cultivated commercially anywhere in the world, the approval application for the EU has not been decided yet, even though it is likely that the EU Commission will decide in favour of it. One of the EU Commissions arguments in favour of an approval is actually that there will be sufficient measures to ensure that the GM potato for industrial processing will not contaminate animal feed, and therefore concerns about Amflora's antibiotica resistance marker would be unfounded.
At the same time however there is also an approval application for Amflora as animal feed, because even the industry aknowledges that contamination cannot be avoided.

Potato pulp from starch processing is typically used as animal feed, so one can assume that the processing companies would want to be sure they can sell their waste on without having to worry about contamination with an unapproved GMO.
Contamination with unapproved GMOs means that the contaminated products are not allowed to be sold in the EU and have to be destroyed or send back, as it happened for example in 2006 when contaminated rice was found in shipments from the US.

But now the Standing Committee (food chain) goes an unprecedented step further. The proposal asks only for adventious presence of Amflora in food. This is a new push for a "contamination authorisation". In practice it means that 0.9% GMO contamination of an unapproved GMO would simply be allowed and wouldn't even have to be labelled.
Under the EU legislation, "adventious or technically unavoidable" contamination below 0.9% are extempted from labelling, and contamination with GMOs not approved for food and feed are simply not allowed at all. With this proposal the Standing Committee tries to change this factually into a 0.9%-threshold - a completely different concept.

The relevant articles are pasted below (with thanks to Helen).

(9) Despite these measures, it can not be excluded that the genetically modified potato and some products of the starch processing may be presentin food or feed. In this case the presence of EH92-527-1 potato or products produced from EH92-527-1 potato in food and feed should be considered adventitious or technically unavoidable and should be in a proportion no higher than 0.9 per cent.

Article 2 - Authorisation
The following products are authorised for the purposes of Article 4(2) and Article 16(2) of Regulation 1829/2003, according to the conditions specified in this Decision and its Annex:
(a) feed produced from BPS-25271-9 potato;
(b) foods containing, consisting of, or produced from BPS-25271-9 potato resulting from the adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of this GMO in a proportion no higher than 0.9 per cent of the food ingredients considered individually or food consisting of a single ingredient;
c) feed containing or consisting of BPS-25271-9 potato resulting from the adventitious or technically unavoidable presence of this GMO in a proportion no higher than 0.9 per cent of the feed and of each feed of which it is composed;

Votes in the standing committee on the 10 October 2007:
Potato, authorisation as feed and 0,9% tolerance in food:

  • 10 member states in favour (123 votes): Finland, Spain, Bulgaria, Estonia, UK, Netherlands,
    Slovakia, Lithuania, Swede, Czech Republic,

  • 12 member states against (134 votes): Austria, Malta, Luxembourg, Latvia, Italy,
    Greece, Cyprus, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Romany, Slovenia,

  • 5 member states abstention (89 votes): Germany, France, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal