[Federal Register: February 12, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 29)]
[Notices]               
[Page 7118-7120]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12fe98-27]

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Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service
[Docket No. 95-054N]

 
International Standard-Setting Activities, Codex Alimentarius 
Commission; Duties of United States Delegates and Delegation Members 
Including Non-Government Members

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice; Request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This notice describes the activities of the Codex Alimentarius 
Commission (Codex); describes the duties of the United States delegate 
and alternate delegate to Codex committees; provides the criteria and 
procedures to be used in selecting non-government members to various 
United States delegations to Codex committees; describes the 
appropriate role of non-government members on Codex committees; 
identifies the manner in which the public will be informed of and may 
participate in Codex activities; and requests comments on these 
matters.

DATES: Comments should be submitted by May 13, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Submit one original and two copies of written comments to: 
FSIS Docket Clerk, Docket #095-054N, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102, Cotton Annex, 300 12th 
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700. All comments submitted in 
response to this notice will be available for public inspection in the 
Docket Clerk's Office between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
F. Edward Scarbrough, Ph.D., United States Manager for Codex 
Alimentarius, Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety, United 
States Department of Agriculture, Room 4861S, Washington, DC 20250-
3700; (202) 205-7760.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The Codex is the joint food standards program of the Food and 
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World 
Health Organization (WHO). This 35-year-old program was established to 
help protect the health of consumers and to facilitate trade through 
the establishment of international food standards, codes of practice 
and other guidelines. Through adoption of food standards, codes of 
practice, and other guidelines developed by its committees and by 
promoting their adoption and implementation by governments, Codex seeks 
to facilitate world trade in foods and promote consumer protection.
    The Codex comprises representatives of more than 150 member 
nations. It meets every two years. It adopts draft and final standards, 
guidelines and codes of practice, and assigns new work to its 
subsidiary bodies. These subsidiary bodies perform the work of 
developing the standards, guidelines and recommendations. The 
subsidiary bodies include Regional Coordinating Committees, Commodity 
Committees, and General Subject Matter Committees. An Executive 
Committee of the Codex is responsible for making recommendations about 
the general direction of the Commission's work. The Executive 
Committee, which meets every year, acts as the executive organ of the 
Commission and may make decisions for the Codex subject to their 
approval at the next biennial Codex session. Regional coordinating 
committees ensure that the work is responsive to regional interests and 
to developing countries. The Codex has set up commodity committees and 
general subject matter committees. These are the groups that draft 
standards and make recommendations to the Codex. The U.S. participates 
in all active General Subject Matter and Commodity Committees and in 
the Regional Coordinating Committee for North America and the South 
West Pacific.
    In the United States, the United States Department of Agriculture 
(USDA); the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health 
and Human Services (HHS); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); 
and the Department of Commerce (DOC) manage and carry out U.S. Codex 
activities. Executive direction to the effort comes from the U.S. 
Manager for Codex, supported by the U.S. Codex Office. The U.S. 
Delegates to the subsidiary bodies participate in the development of 
standards. These delegates and the alternate delegates are government 
officials in USDA, FDA, EPA and DOC. The delegates develop U.S. 
positions on issues to be considered. All interested parties are 
invited to provide information and comments on the issues. As the 
delegates prepare for the meetings of their committees, they form 
delegations comprised of individuals having an interest in the issues 
and whose expertise they think would be helpful or necessary at the 
meetings. These individuals participate as members of the official U.S. 
Delegations, at their own expense.

I. Appointment and Responsibilities of the U.S. Delegate to Codex

    A. The United States Codex Steering Committee selects, and the 
United States Manager for Codex Alimentarius appoints, a United States 
delegate as the head of the United States delegation to each Codex 
committee and an alternate delegate to act in the absence of the United 
States delegate. The U.S. Delegate and the alternate delegate will be 
full time federal government employees.
    B. The United States delegate, or in his absence, the alternate 
delegate, is responsible for representing the United States Government 
at all Codex committee sessions and for presenting the United States 
position on each agenda item at Codex committee sessions. It is the 
United States delegate's responsibility to ascertain the United States 
Government's current position on each Codex committee agenda item and 
to draft the United States Government's response to each agenda item. 
Positions presented by the United States delegate should be based on 
sound science and take into account United States statutes, 
regulations, and policy. The United States delegate may determine that 
a proposed Codex standard that is not consistent with existing United 
States statutes, regulations, or policies is worthy of consideration 
and may, in that case, refer the proposed Codex standard to the United 
States agency responsible for

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accepting or not accepting a particular Codex standard.
    C. The United States delegate, in consultation with the United 
States Manager for Codex Alimentarius, is responsible for selecting 
non-governmental members to serve on the United States delegation to 
the Codex committee.

II. Formation of Delegations

    A. The United States delegate, in consultation with the United 
States Manager for Codex Alimentarius, selects a delegation.
    B. The number of the United States delegation members, including 
government and non-government members, is limited to a maximum of 
twenty-five persons for each Codex committee.
    C. The United States delegate will strive to form a delegation 
that: (1) Has expertise relevant to the items on the agenda of, or 
likely to be discussed at, the particular Codex committee session; (2) 
can assist the United States delegate with items on the agenda of, or 
likely to be discussed at the particular Codex committee session; (3) 
is representative of the individuals, groups, and organizations that 
have an interest in the items on the agenda of, or likely to be 
discussed at the particular Codex committee session; and (4) is 
representative of the individuals, groups, and organizations that could 
be affected by standards to be considered at the Codex session.
    D. With regard to selection of non-government members to 
delegations, the United States delegate will consider the following: 
(1) The necessity of obtaining the informed views of non-government 
individuals during the Codex committee session; (2) whether 
consultations or opportunities to provide written comments prior to the 
Codex committee session would be an adequate alternative to including 
non-government members on the United States delegation; and (3) the 
number of non-government members that would be required on the United 
States delegation to provide balanced representation of the 
individuals, groups, and organizations that have an interest in the 
items on the agenda of, or likely to be discussed at, a particular 
Codex committee session and could be affected by standards to be 
considered at the Codex session.

III. Application and Selection Procedures for Non-Government 
Members

    A. Individuals and representatives from groups and organizations 
interested in becoming members of the United States delegation should 
contact the United States delegate or the Office of the United States 
Manager for Codex Alimentarius.
    B. The United States delegate: (1) Will consider all requests for 
membership on the United States delegation; (2) may seek volunteers for 
membership on the United States delegation; and (3) may identify and 
solicit for membership on the United States delegation non-government 
individuals and representatives from groups or organizations that will 
result in a delegation that meets the criteria in paragraph II.C. of 
this notice.
    C. The United States delegate may select non-government members 
from labor groups, the academic community, trade associations, specific 
business firms, public interest groups, and from other sources, 
including the public at large. The United States delegate will not be 
required to select more than one representative from the same non-
governmental organization to become a member of the United States 
delegation merely because the non-governmental organization represents 
more than one entity or because there are differing views among 
individuals or entities within the non-governmental organization.
    D. The United States delegate may request that any person 
interested in becoming a member of the United States delegation submit 
for consideration a written summary of his or her qualifications. This 
summary should include information pertinent to the work carried out 
under the general terms of reference of the committee, as well as to 
particular items on the agenda of, or likely to be discussed at, 
upcoming Codex committee sessions.
    E. The United States delegate may limit the period of participation 
on, and may exclude from, the United States delegation any non-
government member whose conduct is: (1) Contrary to the provisions of 
this notice; (2) contrary to limitations or prohibitions imposed by the 
United States delegate pursuant to this notice or other authority; or 
(3) prejudicial to the interest of the United States Government, 
including the effective functioning of the United States delegation. No 
non-government member, however, may be excluded from the United States 
delegation merely because of views provided in good faith to other 
members of the United States delegation, nor may a non-government 
member be excluded from the United States delegation for declining to 
provide views on a matter based upon the non-government member's belief 
that his or her views would be inappropriate or prejudicial to the 
United States Government's position.

IV. Responsibilities on Non-Government Members on U.S. Codex Committee 
Delegations

    A. Non-government members should attend all Codex committee 
sessions and be available to assist the United States delegate, upon 
request. In addition, all members of the United States delegation are 
expected to attend delegation meetings convened by the United States 
delegate.
    B. A member of a United States delegation may not serve 
concurrently during a Codex committee session as a member of any other 
country's delegation or on the delegation of an accredited observer to 
the Codex session.
    C. Non-government members are not permitted to speak with foreign 
government officials on behalf of the United States Government at any 
Codex committee session. However, the United States delegate may 
authorize a non-government member to explain a technical or factual 
point, if, in the judgement of the United States delegate: (1) the 
explanation by the non-government member will advance United States 
Government objectives at the Codex committee session; or (2) the non-
government member is best able to explain the technical or factual 
point under discussion.
    D. To the extent feasible, the United States delegate will consult 
with and seek recommendations from non-government members, but will not 
be obliged to present at any Codex committee session any recommendation 
made by any non-government member.
    E. Non-government members shall not at any time negotiate or 
purport to negotiate for the United States Government. Non-government 
members shall not take any individual action on behalf of the United 
States Government without express permission from the United States 
delegate. Non-government members shall not advocate positions outside 
of the United States delegation during a Codex committee session that 
would tend to undermine the position of the United States Government, 
as determined by the United States delegate. However, membership on the 
United States delegation by a non-government member does not prohibit 
any other individual, including an individual from the same 
organization as the non-government member, from expressing views that 
are not in accordance with the United States Government's position. 
Further, no non-government member of the United States delegation shall 
be prohibited

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from expressing views on the outcome of a negotiation after conclusion 
of the negotiation or Codex committee session.
    F. Non-government members are not immune from any laws or 
regulation of the United States or of the host country as a result of 
participation on a United States delegation, and no government official 
may represent that participation confers any such immunity.

V. Public Notification of and Participation in U.S. Codex

    A. The Office of the United States Manager for Codex Alimentarius 
publishes annually in the Federal Register a notice containing (1) 
Descriptions of the standards under consideration or planned for 
consideration by Codex committees and whether the United States is 
participating in the consideration of those standards; (2) the agenda 
for United States participation in Codex committee; (3) the agency 
responsible for representing the United States with regard to each 
standard under consideration or planned for consideration by Codex 
committees; and (4) a list of the Codex committees and the names and 
agency affiliations of the United States delegate and alternate 
delegate for each committee. This same information is available through 
the U.S. Codex website: http://www.usda.gov/agency/fsis/codex/
index.htm. Also, the United States Manager for Codex Alimentarius 
maintains a list of non-government individuals, groups, and 
organizations that have expressed an interest in the activities of the 
Codex.
    B. The United States delegate and alternate delegate will 
facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, public participation in 
the United States Government activities relating to the Codex. Toward 
this end, the United States delegate will maintain a list of 
individuals, groups, and organizations that have expressed an interest 
in activities of the Codex committees.
    C. The United States delegate will notify members of the public who 
have indicated an interest in a particular Codex committee's activities 
of the status of each agenda item and the United States Government's 
position or preliminary position on the agenda item, if such a position 
has been determined. The United States delegate may request members of 
the public who have indicated an interest in a particular Codex 
committee's activities to submit written comments. Public meetings may 
also be held to receive comments.
    D. As required by section 491 of the Trade Agreement Act of 1979, 
as amended, (19 U.S.C. 2578), the agency responsible for accepting or 
rejecting a particular Codex sanitary or phytosanitary standard shall 
provide opportunity for public comment on the Codex standards under 
consideration or planned for consideration. This opportunity for public 
comment will be provided as early as possible following the 
identification of a sanitary or phytosanitary standard for 
consideration by a Codex committee. The comments received will be taken 
into account in the United States delegate's participation in the 
considerations of the Codex committee.
    E. The United States delegate may solicit comments as deemed 
appropriate and all comments received will be considered. Public 
comments relevant to Codex committee activities should be supported by 
as much data or research as possible and such data or research should 
be properly referenced to enhance the persuasive impact of the 
comments. The United States delegate will consider all comments 
received but will not be bound to agree with any comment. The views 
expressed in these comments may or may not be presented by the United 
States delegate to a Codex committee.

    Done at Washington, DC, on February 6, 1998.
F. Edward Scarbrough,
United States Manager for Codex Alimentarius.
[FR Doc. 98-3507 Filed 2-11-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P