But before lunch is served, ministers won’t be able to ignore the daily special that seems to get everyone talking. The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) — certain members of the European Parliament think it tastes delicious, others can’t stomach it.
A recent vote by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approved its recommendations for the TTIP deal by 436 votes to 241 – clearing showing a split in the appetite for it.
The EU-US trade deal, which would give the US access to EU firms, has been described as “toxic” by Global Justice Now and MEPs have already stressed that there can be “no agreement” in areas, where US standards are "very different" to European– and that includes the GM ingredients in food and feed and treating agricultural animals with hormones.
"TTIP is a huge threat to hard-fought-for standards for the quality and safety of our food, the sources of our energy, workers’ rights and our privacy," according to the UK's Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who fears that by streamlining food standards will leave the UK market open to imports of livestock treated with growth hormones.
For example, many meat products exported from the United States include traces of feed additive ractopamine, which is used to stimulate growth in animals like pigs and make the meat leaner. Ractopamine is however banned in around 160 countries, including the European Union and Russia.
Product vs Produce
But although consumer concerns and campaigns have successfully forced major supermarkets and food manufacturers in Europe to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from their shelves – it’s still possible people are eating food containing GM products, according to charity, Friends of the Earth.
Everyone in the food chain — from the farmer, food processor, retailer or restaurant — must keep a detailed traceability system and any animal feed containing 0.9 percent of GM ingredients must be labelled.
But produce, such as meat, milk and eggs, is exempt from this system. So shoppers, unless opting for organic food, are completely unaware that they are in fact already eating meat or produce from animals that have been fed GM feed.
Finally, included on the 'menu du jour' in Brussels is the impact of the Russian ban on EU agricultural products, as European farmers have already suffered millions in losses, following the 2014 ban Russia announced in response to EU’s anti-Russia sanctions over Ukraine.
Meanwhile as the EU-US TTIP deal progresses, it appears it might not be just genetically modified animal feed on the EU plate — but animals treated with growth hormones as well.