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Codex Alimentarius Commission



2nd Session of the Codex Ad-hoc Intergovernmental Task Force
on Foods Derived from Biotechnology
(Mar.25-29, 2001)

Fight between the US and the EU Still Goes On

The 2nd Session of the Codex Ad-hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology (2nd CTFBT) was held in Makuhari, Japan from March 25 to 29, 2001. CTFBT aims to set an international rule of GM food by its 4th session in the year 2003.

Delegates from 37 governments and 25 international NGOs, total in 225 participants gathered and discussed over 2 documents; "General Principles for the Risk Analysis of Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology" and "Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plant."

Both documents were agreed to put for the request to the Codex Commission in July 2001 for forwarding the steps to step 5 (out of 8), though much of the controversial points were left behind for further discussion.

Points where the delegates did not reach the satisfied agreements were:

1. The definition of "Conventional Counterpart": whether GM product could play a role as a comparator of a new GM product when risk analysis and the safety assessments are conducted. The US, CAN, AUS, JAPAN, industry NGOs proposed that "conventional counterpart" could be GM and the EU, NOR, India, China, Korea, consumer and environmental NGOs (IACFO, Consumers International, Greenpeace International, 49th Parallel) opposed the inclusion of GM.

2. Traceability : what exactly it is and it's cost for the implementation. The US said, " it costs too much if all of the GM products had to be able to 'trace back' (the US said that there is no word in the US as traceablility and they prefer trace back. But in the other intervention, the US said that traceability and trace back are different. Trace back does not include labeling?)" but France said, "the cost of implementation of traceability is much cheaper than the cost of recalls and adverse effects of unexpected accident." The text [Risk management may include traceability] remained in brackets.

3. Other Legitimate Factors : whether or not the "OLF" like religious concerns or environmental effect should be considered.

In the section of the use of antibiotic resistant marker genes, some progresses were made. Words were changed for stronger meanings. One change was, from "are encouraged" to "Alternative transformation technologies that do not result in antibiotic resistance marker genes in foods should be used in the future development of recombinant DNA plants, where such technologies are available and demonstrated to be safe." Another change was, from "clinically important" to "clinically used antibiotics should not be present in widely disseminated foods." This will mean that not only the important antibiotics but all antibiotics should not be present in widely disseminated foods.

The 2nd CTFBT also agreed to continue the discussion of analytical methods in a working group chaired by Germany and also to establish 2 new working groups- one on allergenicity chaired by Canada and the other on GM microorganisms chaired by the US. These working groups will be held before the 3rd CTFBT, which is from March 4 to 8, 2002.


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