Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirteenth Report


COM(00) 320

Draft Directive amending Council Directive 96/22/EC concerning the prohibition on the use in stockfeeding of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists.

COM(01) 131

Amended draft Directive amending Council Directive 96/22/EC concerning the prohibition on the use in stockfeeding of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists.
Legal base: Article 152(4)(b) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: (b) 6 March 2001
Forwarded to the Council: (b) 7 March 2001
Deposited in Parliament: (b) 20 April 2001
Department: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Basis of consideration: (Both) EM of 30 April 2001
Previous Committee Report: (a) HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 8 (15 November 2000) and HC 28-v (2000-01), paragraph 6 (7 February 2001)
To be discussed in Council: No date known
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (Both) Cleared


  10.1  Council Directive 96/22/EC[13] regulates the use in stockfeeding within the Community of certain substances having a hormonal or thyrostatic[14] action and beta-agonists,[15] and the main effect of the complex series of provisions described in paragraphs 8.1 and 8.2 of our Report of 15 November 2000 is to ban the use of hormone growth promoters in food-producing animals, and hence in meat, except for therapeutic purposes or zootechnical treatment.[16] Paragraphs 8.4-8.7 of that Report set out the background to the Commission's proposal (in document (a)) which would, among other things, have banned one such substance, oestradiol 17 (and its derivatives), in food-producing animals, and allowed its use in non-food-producing animals only where there was no alternative treatment.

  10.2  A number of issues arising on this — including a clear difference of view between the relevant Commission committee on the one hand, and the UK's Veterinary Products Committee on the other — were pursued further in our Report of 7 February 2001, at the end of which we simply noted the relative weight which the Government had attached to these respective opinions. However, we also expressed concern that the Commission had yet to come forward with details of alternative treatments, and the suggestion in the Regulatory Impact Assessment provided by the Government that these details might not become available until the Directive had been transposed into national legislation. We said that, whatever view might be taken of the basic case for banning oestradiol 17, it seemed essential that the practical implications of any decision to do so were clearly understood, and that we would therefore like to know whether the Government would be pressing the Commission to provide information on alternative treatments before the proposal was agreed. In the meantime, we were not clearing the proposal.

Explanatory Memorandum of 30 April 2001

  10.3  We have now received a further Explanatory Memorandum of 30 April 2001 from the Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman). First, this deals with an amended proposal (document (b)) which the Commission has recently put forward in the light of the changes proposed by the European Parliament at its first reading on 1 February 2001. However, those amendments which the Commission is prepared to accept make only minor changes to the original proposal. Secondly, the Minister also seeks to address our earlier concern about the lack of alternatives to oestradiol 17, where she says a paper on the subject was circulated to a working group meeting held on 2 April 2001, at which Member States were asked by the Commission to identify products containing oestradiol 17 which were considered indispensable, and to estimate what timescale might be needed to replace them with suitable alternatives. The Minister adds that it is still not possible to estimate accurately the costs involved, though she reiterates that these are not likely to be substantial.


  10.4  We are grateful to the Minister for this further information, from which we note that, while the position as regards suitable alternatives to oestradiol 17 has moved on, it is nevertheless still somewhat unclear. However, in the light of her further assurance that the costs are unlikely to be great, we do not intend to pursue the point further, and we are now clearing both the original document and the latest one incorporating those amendments of the European Parliament which the Commission is prepared to accept.

13   OJ No. L 125, 23.5.96, p.3. Back

14   Thyrostatic substances reduce the activity of the thyroid gland, which affects metabolism. A decrease in metabolic rate manifests in a number of ways, including an increase in body weight. Back

15   Beta-agonists give a positive response when combined with a specific receptor site in the body, and can also promote the production of lean meat in treated animals. Back

16   Zootechnical treatment means administering to a farm animal a substance for synchronizing oestrus and preparing donors and recipients for the implantation of embryos. Back

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