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How should our food plant

27 March 2009 570 views No Comment

The choice of food in the EU is huge, but are you well-informed enough to choose well? MEPs insist on European labelling rules that ensure consumers know where their food comes from and under what quality standards it has been produced, packaged and sold. They insist that food safety is essential in the EU. What standards should we hold our farmers and food companies to? Have your say by voting in the European elections!

Food additives must be safe, nanofoods (microscopic food additives) have to be assessed for risks to humans and the cloning of animals for food supply should be banned, say MEPs, for your safety. The EP is concerned about the quality standards under which your food has been produced, and makes sure that your have the right to an informed choice.
 
The EP has, on the whole, set food safety standards high and taken a restrictive approach to GMO technology and intensive farming methods.  Has it got the balance right?
 
Pesticides: good or bad?
 
Pesticides can be vitally important in modern agriculture. They increase crop yields and protect harvests against bugs and pests. But they can also impact adversely on human health and the environment. In January 2009, MEPs backed low pesticide farming and called for the use of non-chemicals in agriculture. They also pushed for a ban on the use of toxic chemicals harmful to human health and on the aerial spraying of chemicals, especially near housing estates. However, some farmers complain the legislation will make their job much harder and will have a limited benefit.
 
Organic food and GMOs
 
Genetically Modified Organisms could be an answer to the food crisis because they are more resistant to environmental conditions and give better yields. They are already widespread in many parts of the world. But there are concerns that GM crops can damage biodiversity and harm human health. After thorough assessment by independent scientists, some GMOs or products derived from them have been authorised in the EU.
 
In March 2007, MEPs called for organic food to be free of GMOs. Current rules say that 0.9% of an organic product can be of GMO origin, if it has been contaminated accidentally, but MEPs want the maximum allowable figure to be reduced to 0.1%. At the same time, MEPs supported the creation of a common EU-wide compulsory “organic logo” for foods containing 95% organic ingredients.
 
Foodstuffs labelling
 
The European Parliament has focused on the consumer’s right to informed choice and has encouraged reliable labelling so that customers know where the product comes from and under what quality standards it has been produced.
 
In March, MEPs backed food labelling rules that clarify the origin of food and where it is processed. Nowadays a lot of food is produced in one place and processed in another country/continent. The EP is pressing for the origin of all primary products to be stated on the label, as well as the place of processing and the origin of all the main ingredients and raw materials used in production.
 
In July 2008, MEPs asked for clearer labelling of food additives with the relevant E number but also with words describing the adverse effect (e.g. “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”).

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