Dáil Éireann - Volume 473 - 23 January, 1997
Written Answers. - Food Labelling.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
164. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he intends to introduce a common labelling mark to identify food and ingredients which have been subject to bioengineering, namely, hybridised seeds and food and ingredients which have been irradiated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1869/97]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates) Ivan Yates
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): Foods and food ingredients which have been subject to bioengineering of the kind generally referred to as genetic engineering would come within the scope of the recently adopted regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients. My colleague, the Minister for Health will shortly assume responsibility for the implementation in Ireland of this regulation.
The regulation provides for an assessment and an approval system for novel foods and food ingredients including labelling requirements of such foods where this is desirable to inform the consumer of any characteristic or food property such as composition, nutritional value or nutritional effects and intended use of the food which renders the food no longer equivalent to an existing food or food ingredient.
There are specific labelling requirements to ensure that the final consumer is informed of the presence of an organism genetically modified by techniques of genetic modification generally referred to as genetic engineering.
Novel foods and novel food ingredients produced from but not containing genetically modified organisms will have to be labelled if they are no longer equivalent to an existing food or food ingredient.
There are no existing specific requirements to label hybridised seeds and foods and food  ingredients which have been irradiated unless they also come within the definition of novel foods. Proposals for EU legislation on the control and labelling of irradiated foods were discussed at length a few years ago but in the absence of agreement little progress was made in adopting these proposals. There are no current proposals to bring forward national legislation in this area.
The requirements of Council Directive No. 79/112, as amended, relating to the laws on the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer apply also to bioengineered and irradiated foods. Legislation on the labelling of foodstuffs is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Enterprise and Employment.
Dáil Éireann 473 Written Answers. Food Labelling.