The European Commission has adopted on Monday 6 May 2013 a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain.
The package of measures provide a modernised and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain. Five draft regulations are put into adoption procedure with other EU institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council. The main four are foreseen to be adopted in next 2 years:
– Official controls,
– Animal health,
– Plant health,
– Plant reproductive material (including seeds)
The current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. The package of reform will cut this down to 5 pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession.
As announced by the commissioner Borg, the EU’s from farm-to-fork policy aims to ensure a high level of health for humans, animals and plants through the development of risk based rules as well as preventing, managing and mitigating risks that threaten our food chain. The package is particularly relevant in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
The legislation requires that official controls should also be unannounced in order to strengthen the tools to fight fraud.
“Another key part of the Commission’s proposal is extending and strengthening the financing of the effective implementation of these controls but it must be noted that microenterprises will be exempted from the new fees system – but not from controls,” said commissioner Borg.
He stressed the importance of plant health. Crops that are grown in the EU account for €205 billion annually. Europe’s agriculture, forest and natural heritage are being threatened by the introduction of new pest species as a result of globalisation and climate change. The proposal aims to address these threats by upgrading the existing plant health regime; increasing the traceability of plant material; focusing on high risk trade and providing better surveillance and early eradication of outbreaks of new pest species as well as providing financial compensation for growers.
Borg has highlighted that 60% of the world export value in seeds originates from the EU. With this in mind, this reform provides simpler and more flexible rules for the marketing of seeds and other plant reproductive material to ensure the productivity; adaptability and diversity to Europe’s crop production and to facilitate their trade.
“Our aim is to introduce a broader choice for the users thus including new improved and tested varieties, material not fulfilling the variety definition (heterogeneous material), traditional varieties and niche market material. This will contribute to protection of biodiversity and to breeding oriented towards sustainable agriculture,” he said at today’s launche of the package.
See on ec.europa.eu