ACNFP minutes: 16 July 2003

Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 16 July 2003 in Conference Room 5, Aviation House.

Present

Chairman:
Professor Janet Bainbridge

Members:
Miss Jill Brand
Dr Hilary Close
Professor Ruth Chadwick
Mr Neville Craddock
Dr John Fowler
Dr John Heritage
Professor Alan Malcolm
Dr Clive Meredith
Professor Ian Rowland
Professor John Warner

FSA Assessor:
Dr Clair Baynton

Secretariat:
Dr Sandy Lawrie
Dr Jane Cockram
Dr Sharn Bowen
Dr Chris Jones
Ms Ruth Dadswell
Ms Iulia Young (minutes)

Observers:
Dr Claire Pitcher (DEFRA, ACRE Secretariat)
Ieva Klavinska (Latvian Ministry of Agriculture)
Colin Ross (FSA)

Members are required to declare any personal interest in matters under discussion. Where Members have a particularly close association with any item, the Chairman will limit their involvement in the discussion. In cases where an item is to be discussed in their absence, a Member may make a statement before leaving.

1. Apologies and announcements
1.1 Apologies were received from Professor Phil Dale, Professor Jim Dunwell, Professor Mac Johnston, Dr Peter Lund and from observers from FSA Scotland, Wales and FSA Northern Ireland (Mrs Elspeth MacDonald, Mr Phil Morgan, and Mr Gerry McCurdy).

1.2 The Chairman introduced the observers of the meeting: Dr Claire Pitcher (ACRE Secretariat), Ieva Klavinska (Latvian Ministry of Agriculture) and Colin Ross (shortly to be joining the ACNFP Secretariat).

1.3 The Chairman noted that she and Dr Heritage would reach the end of their terms of appointment in August and that this would be their last meeting. She thanked Dr Heritage for his contribution to the committee throughout his six-year membership. Dr Rowland was also nearing the end of his appointment but would continue with the Committee as the ex officio link with the Committee on Toxicity (COT).

1.3 The Chairman reminded Members of the need to announce any commercial interests in the business of the Committee, prior to the discussions on each item.

2. Draft Minutes of the 60th Meeting - DRAFT/ACNFP/60/MIN
Members agreed that the minutes were a true record of the 60th meeting of the ACNFP held on 22 May 2003.

3. Matters Arising
3.1 Consumer Concerns
As she had not been able to attend the previous meeting, Professor Chadwick commented on the points regarding consumer choice and access. She commented that the committee has the relevant expertise to consider consumer and ethical issues. The issue of 'who is consuming what' is increasingly important and access, while frequently understood as an equity issue, also has safety implications, as certain foods or food ingredients may not be safe in some doses or for some categories of consumers, such as children. On the question of ethical concerns, the key point was not to offer definitive advice, but to identify and flag up the issues.

3.2 Open Meetings
The Secretariat informed members that advice had been received from the Agency's lawyers regarding open meetings. They had advised that any open discussion of novel foods applications would be subject to European legislation and that further discussion would be required with the Commission to clarify the position.

3.3 Assessment of Micro-organisms
The Secretariat informed members that the comments made on the paper regarding the assessment of micro-organisms had been passed on to the Agency's Microbiological Safety Division who would be co-ordinating the response to the commission. A copy of the Agency's response will be circulated to members.

4. GM Debate: Science Review (Oral Update)
Members were updated on the progress of the Science Review. The Agency had provided formal comments to the Science Review, based on points raised by the ACNFP and ACAF.

The Secretariat informed members that the majority of their comments had been accepted by the Science Review panel, although there had been some debate over comments made on allergenicity. Members were informed that the Science Review report would be published in the week beginning 21 July and that the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit had already published its report on the Economic Review. The Secretariat agreed to forward copies of this report to members.

Members were asked to consider the relevant chapter of the final Science Review Report so that a response can be co-ordinated to send to the Science Review Panel for their September meeting.

Members reported their experience of events organised as part of the GM Public Dialogue and the Committee noted that the lessons learned from this exercise would improve the design of any similar initiative that might be organised in future.

5. GM maize line MON863 and MON863 X MON810 hybrids - ACNFP/61/1
The Committee was asked to consider the initial opinion from Germany on an application for authorisation under 258/97, to import grain and grain derived food ingredients from insect-resistant maize line MON863 and maize hybrid line MON863 X MON 810. Members were reminded that they had already considered the human health aspects of these lines under Directive 2001/18/EC.

Members stated that they agreed with the German initial opinion that there are no safety concerns with MON863. However, they did not agree that an additional assessment was necessary with regard to the presence of the resistance marker nptII.

The Committee had a detailed discussion on the nature of the data supplied on hybrids between GM lines MON863 and MON810 and noted that there was no precedent for assessing hybrids under the novel foods regulation. Members considered that it was not sufficient to rely on data on the two parent lines and that more data were required on the hybrids, noting that the available compositional data indicated some reduction in mineral levels that could be indicative of other changes. The Secretariat agreed to reflect these points in the formal UK response.

6. Chia (Salvia hispanica L) - ACNFP/61/2
Prior to discussions on this application, Professor Rowland declared a conflict of interest and left the room for this item. Professor Warner and Dr Meredith informed the Committee that they had some indirect involvement with the design and execution of certain studies and the Chairman concluded that they should remain.

Members were asked to consider this Novel Food application to incorporate whole and ground Chia seed into soft grain bread at a maximum level of 5%. Members were informed that the application had been placed on the Agency's Website for public consultation with a deadline of 25 July 2003. The Committee was therefore asked to give a provisional opinion, subject to their consideration of any further comments that might be received from the public consultation.

Members discussed the potential allergenicity of this product and expressed concerns about the selection of the subjects who took part in the allergen screening. Members suggested that further studies should to be carried out on subjects with known seed allergies, especially allergies to sesame seed.

Members queried the use of paraquat and requested more information on its application and on the possible risk from mycotoxins. Members also requested more information about the storage and transportation conditions.

The Secretariat agreed to contact the company to request this further information.

7. Noni Juice from Hawaii - ACNFP/61/3
Members were asked to consider an application from Neways Inc. for an opinion under Article 3(4) of EC Regulation 258/97, on the equivalence of noni juice (juice of the fruit of Morinda citrofolia L) grown in Hawaii and the similar product from Tahiti that had been previously assessed and cleared under the novel food procedures.

The Committee agreed that they could not give an opinion on this substantial equivalence claim due to the lack of compositional data supplied by the applicant. Members requested further details of the composition of noni fruits from the two geographical regions.

The Secretariat agreed to contact the applicant to request these further data.

8. Items for Information
8.1 EU Update - ACNFP/61/4 + Addendum
Members were updated on EU issues that are relevant to the work of the Committee, including the new panel that advises the European Food Safety Authority on genetic modification.

9. Any Other Business
9.1 Tabled papers for postal consultation: ACNFP/61/5 and 61/6
Members were asked to consider two tabled papers, concerning additional information on two dossiers on GM crops submitted under the deliberate release directive 2001/18. These were not for discussion at the meeting and Members were invited to send in any comments by 23 July. The Secretariat will then forward a letter to ACRE incorporating members comments.

9.2 Chairman's retirement
On behalf of the Committee, Dr Lawrie thanked Professor Bainbridge for her contribution as Chairman over the past 6 years and wished her well in her retirement.

10. Date of next meeting
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 17 September 2003, in Aviation House.