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Minister Šinko and Commissioner Kyriakides on food safety

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Irena Šinko met today with the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food.

During the meeting, they touched on topical issues in food safety, veterinary medicine and phytosanitary matters, including the sustainable use of plant protection products, animal welfare, new genomic techniques, plant and forest reproductive material and efforts to reduce food waste.

Minister Irena Šinko and EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides shaking hands, behind them is a Slovenian flag

Minister Irena Šinko and EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides during todays' meeting | Author Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides is on a working visit to Slovenia. This morning, she met with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Irena Šinko. They first touched on the proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products. The proposal for the regulation was published in June 2022 and pursues the goals of the Farm to Fork Strategy to reduce the use and risks of chemical plant protection products and of the most hazardous plant protection products by 2030. The proposal is currently under consideration in the EU Council Working Party on pesticides. Numerous member states, including Slovenia, pointed out that some provisions were unacceptable already during the drafting of the proposal. These are mostly related to the complete ban on the use of all plant protection products in sensitive areas, which would apply to 40 % of all utilised agricultural areas in Slovenia.

Minister Šinko commended the European Commission for being open to dialogue and to finding solutions, highlighting the visit of the European Commission representatives in April where they were able to discover Slovenia's special characteristics. "We are aware of the importance of transitioning to sustainable food production systems, while enabling agriculture to fulfil its primary role, which is to produce food and ensure food security. In this context, it is important to take into account the special characteristics in member states," pointed out Minister Šinko. Commissioner Kyriakides noted that she was aware of Slovenia's concerns and special characteristics, while highlighting the Commission's openness to finding alternative solutions that would be acceptable to all. The pair concluded that we have to continue to work together, remain flexible and seek solutions to address the open questions.

They went on to discuss animal welfare and the preparation of new legislation in this area. The Minister welcomed the EU's efforts and highlighted the activities that Slovenia undertakes in this field. According to the Minister, the planning of the legislation on animal welfare should be carried out in the spirit of cooperation and consensus between member states. All aspects of new provisions have to be taken into consideration. She presented the situation in Slovenia, adding that farmers are aware of the importance of animal welfare since their production and livelihood depend on it. She highlighted the good practice of a mobile veterinary inspection in Slovenia, which was welcomed by the Commissioner.

The Minister and the Commissioner also touched on the EU's new legislative proposal on new genomic techniques, plant reproductive material and the efforts to reduce food waste. The Commission's proposal that will be published in early July aims to promote competitiveness, sustainability and innovation, and to open up new opportunities in agriculture. Slovenia agrees that it is necessary to uniformly regulate the products obtained by new genomic techniques at the EU level. Minister Šinko stressed the importance of research and of a comprehensive impact assessment for the environment, human health and the safety of these products.

With regard to modernising the legislation on plant reproductive material in agriculture and forestry, the Minister emphasised that the new legislation should create a level playing field for all operators. Recognising the specific requirements for forest reproductive material, the Commission will regulate this area in a separate act.

Minister Šinko and Commissioner Kyriakides spoke about the efforts to reduce food waste and food loss, which will also be addressed under the new legislation. An important question will be how to change the labelling of the product shelf life. The Minister presented to the Commissioner the activities in the field of food waste. "In late 2021, Slovenia adopted a national strategy for reducing food loss and food waste in the food supply chain," noted Minister Šinko, adding that the Government of the Republic of Slovenia will adopt an action plan for implementing the national strategy. "It is crucial to address the entire food supply chain to prevent food waste from transferring from one link to another." The Minister informed the Commissioner about the Slovenian Day Without Food Waste celebrated on 24 April, aiming to raise the visibility of this challenge.