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EU Review of Novel Foods Regulation Ends with No Agreement

29 March 2011: The final round of conciliation talks on the revision of the EU Novel Foods Regulation took place in Brussels, Belgium, ending without agreement on 29 March 2011. According to statements, officials could not agree on labeling requirements for meat from offspring of cloned animals for food production. As a result, the current Novel Foods Regulation, adopted in 1997, will remain in force.

The talks collapsed after several rounds of negotiations between the EU Council and the European Parliament. While officials agreed on a ban on direct cloning in animal reproduction for food production, they could not reach agreement on the use of offspring of cloned animals, such as animals produced through artificial insemination using semen from a cloned male.

The EU Novel Foods Regulation addresses, among other issues, the environmental and human health risks of novel ingredients of food products, such as: ingredients containing or consisting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs); ingredients produced from but not containing GMOs; ingredients with a new or intentionally modified molecular structure; and other novel ingredients.

The review of the existing Regulation aimed to improve access of new and innovative foods to the EU market, while maintaining a high level of consumer protection and ensuring food safety. The proposal included already agreed upon improvements on: a legal definition of nano-materials and their mandatory labeling; a centralized and quicker authorization procedure to facilitate innovation from the food industry; and specific measures for traditional food from third countries.

In a press statement, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli regretted the lost opportunity to improve the Regulation, and announced that he would consider next steps both with respect to the novel food Regulation and in the issue of cloning in food production. [European Parliament Press Release] [Statement by Commissioner Dalli] [EU Novel Foods Regulation]