The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has said it must be involved in drawing the initial list of authorised ‘novel’ food products and have a right to veto any additions if deemed dangerous to EU consumers, and suggest no clones be allowed on the list.

It says that to avoid any possible legislative loopholes MEPs also want to automatically exclude food from cloned animals from the allowed list and adopt a clear and unambiguous definition of what should be considered novel foods.

Members of the Agriculture Committee argued that interests of EU consumers must be given priority when it comes to authorisation of novel foods.

“Innovation is an important process in the agri-food industry and should be supported and encouraged, provided that the safety of novel foods is ensured by appropriate risk assessments and that the consumer is properly informed”, said Agriculture Committee’s rapporteur Daciana Octavia Sârbu.

New rules should streamline the authorisation procedure to stimulate innovation, but at the same time provide a high level of human health and environment protection and promote animal health, MEPs say.

To this end they demand an independent, peer reviewed scientific evidence for all novel foods seeking marketing authorisation, which should prove that they do not pose a safety risk to human health, animal health and environment. The Agriculture Committee also wants the Commission to mandatorily ask the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for an opinion on all updates of the allowed list.

MEPs updated the definition of novel foods proposed now by the Commission to specifically include foods or food ingredients with intentionally modified primary molecular structure and those consisting of micro-organisms, fungi or algae and other material of biological or mineral origin.

Certain foods containing plants or their parts, which were not obtained by traditional propagating or breeding practices and do not have a history of safe food use in the EU, should also be considered novel foods by definition, says the adopted text.

It went on to say that food derived from cloned animals should be automatically banned from the list of allowed novel foods. Such products would be dealt with by the separate legislation on food from cloned animals, but to avoid possible legislative loopholes until this law enters into force, the committee insists on explicit exclusion of cloned animals from the scope of the novel foods regulation.

The opinion of the Agriculture Committee will now be scrutinised by members of the Environment committee, which is expected to vote its report on November 24, during its extraordinary meeting in Strasbourg.