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C 137 E/182 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

(2003/C 137 E/206) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3263/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(19 November 2002)

Subject: Presence of non-vegetable oils in food and feed due to pollution of farmland by emissions from
transport and industry

1. Is the Commission aware of the research by the laboratory of the Swiss canton of Zurich into the
contamination of foodstuffs with products derived from mineral oils and into the inflammation of internal
organs such as the liver which this may cause, as found in rats which had consumed food contaminated
with mineral oils, on which the researcher Koni Grob reported at the end of October at the congress of
food experts organised by the Fresenius Academy in Mainz, Germany?

2. Does the Commission have any information about the hypothesis, supported by the examination of
cows’ stomachs, that fields and meadows are being contaminated with inadequately filtered soot particles
from diesel engines, which then find their way into cattlefeed and the stomachs of cattle, and so ultimately
into people who eat meat?

3. Can the Commission contribute to efforts, building on the findings in Switzerland, to ascertain with
the maximum certainty what consequences the presence of non-vegetable oils in soil used to produce food
has?

4. In the light of the research in Switzerland and in the context of efforts to promote food safety by
protecting farmland against the consequences of road traffic and industry, are there grounds for studying
not only the by now familiar hazards of dioxin contamination but also the hazards associated with non-
vegetable oils?

5. What practical measures by the EU, its Member States and their regions can the Commission initiate,
encourage or coordinate?

Source: Handelsblatt News am Abend, 1 November 2002

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(15 January 2003)

1. The Commission is aware of the research performed by the laboratory of the Swiss canton of Zurich
on the presence of mineral oils in feed and food. The Scientific Committee for Food expressed an opinion
on 22 September 1995 on mineral and synthetic hydrocarbons. From the available data, the Committee
concluded that it was clear that some mineral and synthetic oils and waxes accumulate and give rise to
toxicity.

2. Mineral oil consists primarily of alkanes and a smaller amount of aromatics, including polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The Scientific Committee on Food expressed an opinion on 4 December
2002 on the risks to human health of PAH in food. The Commission will now consider the appropriate
measures to be taken to reduce the presence of these compounds in food in order to protect public health.

Furthermore, Council Directive 75/439/EEC of 16 June 1975 on the disposal of waste oils (1) prohibits

 any discharge into inland surface water, ground water, territorial sea water, coastal water and drainage
system;

 any deposit and/or discharge of waste oils harmful to the soil and any uncontrolled discharge of
residues resulting from the processing of waste oils;

 any processing causing air pollution which exceeds the level prescribed by existing provisions.
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/183

3. Hydrocarbons are present at low levels in many foods but their origin is often uncertain. In some
cases, the hydrocarbons are of a natural origin whilst in other cases they arise from contamination of the
food by mineral hydrocarbons present in the environment, including pastures and agricultural fields.
The contamination is the result of emission from a number of sources, such as processing and burning of
coal, crude oil, petroleum and natural gas, production of aluminium, iron and steel, combustion of waste,
fires including forest fires, motor vehicle exhaust and disposal of used motor lubricating oil. It is currently
not precisely known to which extent mineral hydrocarbons present in the environment leads to the
presence thereof in the different feed materials and to which extent they are transferred from feed to food
of animal origin.

4. The emissions of these undesirable mineral hydrocarbons have to be avoided as much as possible in
order to reduce the presence thereof in the environment. The Commission acknowledges the need to
gather more information on the relation between the presence of these undesirable mineral hydrocarbons
in the environment and the food chain and the possible consequences for public health.
The Communication of the Commission on the Sixth Environmental Action Programme of the
Community highlights the overall Environment-Health objective to achieve a quality of the environment
where the levels of man-made contaminants do not give rise to significant impact or risk to human health.
Within this action programme, research will be stimulated to gather better knowledge on the impact of the
contamination of the environment on public health.

5. As part of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme, a thematic strategy on air pollution under the
title ‘Clean Air for Europe’ will be developed by 2004. This strategy will contain, inter alia, the results of a
detailed analysis on what further measures may be required in order to achieve air quality and deposition
objectives across the Union.

(1) OJ L 194, 25.7.1975.

(2003/C 137 E/207) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3273/02


by Bernd Lange (PSE)
and Christa Randzio-Plath (PSE) to the Commission

(19 November 2002)

Subject: Obligation to submit a report on on-board measurement systems pursuant to Directive 98/69/EC

New OBM developments now monitor emissions more accurately than the OBD procedure.

This was already mentioned in Directive 98/69/EC (1), which called for a report to be submitted by 30 June
2002, inter alia on requirements for the operation of an on-board measurement system (OBM).

1. Is the Commission aware that, pursuant to Article 4(1), second subparagraph of Directive 98/69/EC,
it owes Parliament and the Council a report on this subject?

2. Why has the Commission not yet submitted this report?

3. What steps has the Commission taken to fulfil its obligation?

(1) OJ L 350, 28.12.1998, p. 1.

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(10 January 2003)

Article 4 paragraph 1 of Parliament and Council Directive 98/69/EC (1), amending Council Directive 70/
220/EEC, requires the Commission to submit a report, by 30 June 2002, to the Parliament and the Council