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IP/11/292

Brussels, 14th March 2011

GM feed ban: Commission takes Poland to the EU Court of Justice

The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fulfil its obligations under EU law by prohibiting the production, the placing on the market and the use of genetically modified feed. The Commission considers that by maintaining this ban Poland is not applying correctly Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed, which establishes a single authorisation procedure.

The issue

On 22 July 2006, Poland adopted a law on animal feed prohibiting the production, placing on the market and use of genetically modified (GM) animal feed. The ban also covers the marketing and use of GM feed originating from other Member States and non-EU countries. In accordance with Article 65 of this law, the prohibition was originally going to enter into force on 12 August 2008. Following an amendment to the law, adopted on 26 June 2008, the entry into force of the prohibition was postponed until 1 January 2013.

This general ban infringes Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on GM food and feed, which introduces a single authorisation procedure at European Union level. The procedure is based on an independent risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Member States may not ban the placing on the market of GM feed outside the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003.

Background

The European Union has laid down procedures for the authorisation and supervision of GM food and feed in the EU with the primary objective of achieving a high level of protection of human health, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market.

Under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 GM food and feed may only be placed on the market when, after an extensive risk assessment by EFSA, it has been authorised following a single authorisation procedure. Such authorisations may only be refused, modified, suspended or revoked under the provisions of this Regulation. In addition, the regulation harmonises the procedure for adopting emergency measures where authorised products are likely to constitute a serious risk to human health or when the need to suspend or modify urgently an authorisation arises.

Poland did not respect the harmonised procedures foreseen in this Regulation neither for the authorisation of GM feed nor for the adoption of safeguard measures. Poland is consequently not entitled to unilaterally adopt a general prohibition to place GM feed on the market outside the procedures provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003.

According to the case law, Member States infringe EU law when they maintain or adopt national provisions that are not complying with EU law even if those national provisions are not yet applicable.

Therefore, the Commission considers that, by introducing a ban in 2013, Poland is creating legal uncertainty and is in breach of its obligations under EU law.

More information on the infringement procedure: MEMO/11/162

More information on genetically modified food and feed:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm


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