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Parliament tries to restrict role of European Food Authority

The European Parliament has tabled amendments to the European Commission's proposal on the creation of a European Food Authority (EFA), which would see the role of the Authority reduced. The Food Authority as proposed by the Commission will be an independent legal entity with...

The European Parliament has tabled amendments to the European Commission's proposal on the creation of a European Food Authority (EFA), which would see the role of the Authority reduced. The Food Authority as proposed by the Commission will be an independent legal entity with its own budget, executive director and management board. The Commission views the future EFA as covering all scientific matters which may have a direct or indirect effect on the safety of the food supply, including all stages of production and supply, from primary production, safety of animal feeds, pesticides and GMOs right through to the supply of food to consumers. A report by British MEP Phillip Whitehead however takes a more restrictive view, submitting amendments that would reduce the Authority's role in the field of animal health and welfare, and on issues like plant health and GMOs. Of over 200 amendments put forward in the Whitehead report, the Commission is able to accept fully or in principle more than half, according to Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne. He emphasised however that the Commission cannot accept amendments narrowing the scope of the Authority's activity. The Commission sees a wider remit as necessary in order to avoid the weaknesses of the past, such as the failure to make an early identification of animal health problems that can pose a risk to human health, such as BSE. Commissioner Byrne did say, however, that the Commission could accept fully or in principle provisions to make the functioning of the EFA more transparent. Detailed amendments that would compromise the horizontal nature of the proposed text, which, he added, are dealt with in more specific proposals put forward or to be presented in follow up to the white paper on food safety, could not accepted by the Commission, he said.

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