Environment minister urges EU to consider scientific arguments

The Icelandic Minister for the environment Jónína Bjartmarz met on Tuesday 20 February with EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou in Brussels to discuss food security and possible Icelandic membership of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

Ms Bjartmarz stressed the low levels of Campylobacter and Salmonella infections in Iceland, and expressed her worries over increased Campylobacter incidence in foodstuffs within the EU. Mr Kyprianou said that while the EU had been successful in reducing Salmonella, no legislation was in place to fight Campylobacter as effectively.

Regarding membership of the EFSA, Mr Kyprianou said that nothing would prevent Iceland from joining the agency when the relevant EU rules have been incorporated into Icelandic law. The most sensitive issue in Iceland-EU relations in the field of food and animal feed is the ban on fishmeal in ruminant feed, which was originally put in place because of a fear of contamination by infected meat and bone meal. Mr Kyprianou said that the EU had already implemented controls to ensure that no such contamination took place, so any resistance to lifting the ban was of a political rather than a scientific kind. Ms Bjartmarz urged for a solution to this problem based on scientific considerations.

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