Europe Agrees Animal Feed Environmental Risk Plan

BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 17, 2002 (ENS) - An innovative European Union proposal to submit all animal feed additives to a risk assessment to ensure they will not harm the environment was endorsed by agriculture ministers yesterday. The new regulation will also complete an EU drive to ban antibiotics as livestock growth promoters by extending it to a further four substances.

The proposals were originally tabled by the European Commission in March. Under them producers will have to complete a risk assessment before they can receive marketing authorizations for their additives. All additives are covered, including preservatives, flavoring, colorants and vitamins.

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Antibiotics as livestock growth promoters will not be permitted. (Photo courtesy Freefoto)
Only additives for which the assessment shows negligible impact on the environment and on both animal and human health will get marketing consent.

Authorizations will be time limited to 10 years. For some additives maximum residue limits in final food products will be set. Feed makers have already said they are unsure how the changes will affect them.

Giving antibiotics to farm animals results in the emergence of resistant bacteria with potentially disastrous consequences for human health, the United Kingdom Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food and others have said.

In addition, the regulation will outlaw use of the antibiotics monensin sodium, salinomycin sodium, avilamycin and flavophosphlipol as growth promoters from 2006. The use of coccidiostats and histomonostats will continue, though under tighter conditions. The Commission will review in 2007 whether these should also be banned.

In a separate decision yesterday ministers also confirmed an EU ban on the use of hormones as growth promoters. The ban is a major bone of contention between the European Union and the United States.

Both decisions now go to the European Parliament for a second reading. Members of the European Parliament have already suggested several changes on the additives plan, including an earlier antibiotics ban, and a conciliation may be necessary to resolve differences. But they are likely to fully back the hormone ban.

In other points on the council agenda, which continues until tomorrow's fisheries items, ministers debated a future EU organic farming action plan on the basis of an as yet unpublished European Commission working document.

Germany reiterated concerns over the potential harm being caused by the formation of acrylamides in fried foods. Supported by Belgium, Sweden and Denmark, it called for negotiations with the food industry to reduce acrylamide content.

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{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}