Foods produced through nanotechnology processes must be risk assessed before making it onto the EU authorisation list, according to new measures voted in by MEPs.
Risk assessment for 'nanofood'
MEPs also voted to exclude foods produced by nanotechnology processes from the EU authorisation list until they have undergone a specific risk assessment regarding their possible impact on health.
Once approved, all food containing nanomaterials will need to be clearly indicated on the ingredients list, MEPs said.
The European Parliament's environment committee has also voted not to authorise the entry of any food derived from cloned animals onto EU markets, putting MEPs on a collision course with the European Commission and the EU's Council of Ministers.
The Parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee reaffirmed on May 4, the House's first-reading decision to entirely exclude food derived from cloned animals and their offspring from the EU's novel foods regulation.
The new report follows a 2008 Parliament resolution calling for a ban on cloning for food supply purposes and an embargo on imports of cloned animals, their produce and offspring.
The Commission's initial proposal would have included food derived from cloned animals but not their traditionally-bred offspring. The Council is in favour of including in the regulation food from both cloned animals and their offspring.
Lawmakers also stressed that "the opinion of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies on the ethical and environmental implications must be sought when necessary" before a product is included on the list of accepted novel foods in the EU.
The EU's current Novel Foods Regulation dates back to May 1997. It does not cover foods developed since then that use nanotechnology, nor does it cover foods that are consumed outside the EU.
Following a stakeholder consultation on the regulation in 2002, the European Commission adopted a legislative proposal to amend the current Novel Foods Regulation in January 2008.
The aim, according to the EU executive, is to allow "for safe and innovative foods to reach the EU market faster" and to encourage the development of "new types of foods and food production techniques".
The regulation would create a centralised authorisation system to simplify and speed up the process of authorisation for novel foods. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) would be responsible for carrying out the risk assessment for a novel food application and, if judged safe, the Commission would then propose its authorisation.
Only novel foods that are included on the Community list after assessment by the EFSA may be placed on the market.
The committee's report will be transmitted for approval by the full assembly for a second-reading vote. If it is approved - which is very likely considering the House's past positions on the matter - and the Council sticks to its position, the dossier will be heading for a conciliation procedure.