Representatives of several standards and conformity authorities from across GCC countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and UAE have met recently in Abu Dhabi in connection with the 6th Meeting of GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) Sub- Committee for Organic, Functional and Genetically Modified Foods.
Apart from Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology, officials from Ministry of Environment & Water, Abu Dhabi Quality & Conformity Council, Dubai Municipality and UAE University also attended the meeting.
During her welcome speech, H.E. Dr. Mariam Hareb Al Yousuf, Executive Director of Policy & Regulation sector at ADFCA and the Chairperson of the GCC Sub Committee said, the Sub- Committee has emerged from the original GSO Technical Committee for Food and Agricultural Products in 2008 with a main scope of work that included preparing proposals, studying and reviewing of Unified GCC technical regulations, standards, codes of practice and related guidelines and directives with regards to the regulation of genetically modified, organic and functional food products handling with a focus on guaranteeing safety of the products from any possible health risks.
She said the committee was also entrusted with observing developments in the field in order to ensure that the process to develop rules and regulation is keeping pace with the advanced scientific knowledge which ultimately guarantees health and safety of GCC citizens and residents as well as removal of barriers and facilitation of international trade.
According to Dr. Mariam, the committee has successfully accomplished 20 projects since its formation.
The committee reviewed the ongoing tasks with regards to several regulations and GCC specifications and detailed deliberations were held to draw a frame work for the execution of projects in the next phase.
The recommendations of 2015 meeting as well as the recommendations made by GCC Council For Food & Agricultural Standards were taken in to consideration while the committee deliberated on various topics related to its task.
Year plans for 2015 and 2016, past achievements in addition to recently accomplished 11 projects were also came under review and discussion.
The agenda of meeting included a presentation on the approval and inspection mechanisms which can strengthen the control system on genetically modified food. The committee referred to various regional and international practices and experiences including the prevailing control system in European Union countries.
The committee also approved certain recommendations to be submitted for the consideration of Gulf Committee for Food Safety. These recommendations include a project to prepare guide for permitted health, functional and nutritional claims made on food and conditions of use, project to prepare principles for Risk Analysis of Foods derived from modern Biotechnology in addition to one that focuses on guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements.
Participants praised the role UAE playing in various fields to add value on the concept of cooperation between GCC member countries. In addition, they expressed their satisfaction and gratitude towards ADFCA for facilitating the meeting.