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UPDATE: European Parliament’s ENVI Committee votes to approve Moratorium on Nano in Food

The European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has voted to adopt a draft report that ‘proposed a moratorium on the use of nanomaterials in food, based on the precautionary principle’. The report is an amended version of the European Commission’s (EC) January 2014 proposal for a Regulation on Novel Foods 2013/0435 (COD).

A draft report containing 93 amendments to the original EC proposal was presented to members of the ENVI Committee at a recent plenary session of the European Parliament; MEPs present at the session ‘nevertheless amended the text and proposed a moratorium’, and an extraordinary session was held in order to vote on an adoption of the newly-amended report. One of the other significant amendments proposed by MEPs at the Plenary was for a nanoparticle number threshold of 10% to be used, instead of the originally-described 50%, in order to ‘bring it in line with EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) recommendations).

The report listing the agreed amendments to the draft report presented to members of the ENVI Committe at the EP plenary session reveals that members:

  • Changed the definition of 'engineered nanomaterial' to: 'such substances contain or consist of any intentionally manufactured material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or agglomerate and where, for 10% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1nm to 100nm'
  • Tabled a call for a moratorium on nanotechnology in food through the following amendment to the original text: 'Foods to which production processes have been applied that require specific risk assessment methods (for example, foods produced using nanotechnologies as referred to in Article 2 (2) (ii)) may not be included in the Union list until such specific methods have been approved by EFSA for use, and an adequate safety assessment on the basis of those methods has shown that the use of the respective foods is safe.'
  • Called for labelling of foods with nanomaterials in them: 'where relevant, additional specific labelling requirements to inform the final consumer of any specific characteristic or food property, such as the composition, nutritional value or nutritional effects and intended use of the food, which renders a novel food no longer equivalent to an existing food or of implications for the health of specific groups of the population; if a novel food consists of, or contains ingredients in the form of engineered nanomaterials, this shall be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients, and the names of such ingredients shall be followed by the word 'nano' in brackets'
  • Added text to the original document to highlight their support for nanotechnologies: 'New technologies and innovations like biotechnology andnanotechnology in food production should be fostered as this could reduce the environmental impact of food production, enhance food security and bring benefits to consumers. Developments in food production should therefore always be judged according to the latest available scientific evidence in order to ensure a sound scientific confirmation of European food safety.'

The European Parliament will next discuss this at a plenary session on 2 February 2015. Furthermore the rapporteur for the draft report was given a mandate to start negotiations with the European Council of Ministers.


Follow this link to read the report stating agreed amendments proposed by the ENVI Committee at the EP plenary session, here to read more about the draft report by the ENVI Committee on the Novel Foods regulation, this to read the draft report by ENVI that MEPs amended at the Plenary session, and this to see the current status of the proposed novel foods legislation. Follow this link to read NIA’s previous reporting on the topic.

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