Greenpeace targets animal feed sector on GM soy
By Eric Onstad, Reuters, 13 December
AMSTERDAM, - Environmental group Greenpeace warned shippers on Wednesday it was likely to block more vessels carrying genetically modified (GM) soybeans to European animal feed producers.
Italian Greenpeace activists said on Wednesday they had held up a ship carrying GM soybeans headed for Venice, after similar blockades in France and Belgium in recent weeks.
“We are stepping up our resistance against genetically engineered crops and commodities in animal feed. We want to send a signal back to the major exporting countries, mainly the U.S. and Argentina,” Lorenz Petersen, head of Greenpeace’s global GM campaign, said in an interview.
Many European food manufacturers have pledged not to use GM soy in their products, but Petersen said Greenpeace is now targeting the animal food industry.
“We will continue to watch very closely what is going into European animal feed because this is a large chunk of the use for GM commodities,” he said.
“Chances are high that meat, poultry, milk, eggs and fish from aquaculture we eat come from animals raised with feed containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s),” a recent Greenpeace report said.
The renewed push by Greenpeace comes as Europe’s animal feed producers are due to expand their use of soymeal to replace meat and bone meal, recently banned as a high-protein supplement.
The European Union imposed a six-month ban, due to come into force on January 1, in a move to combat renewed outbreaks of mad cow disease.
Europe’s feed industry has forecast that banning meat and bone meal in feed will require up to three million more tonnes of soymeal or other products on an annual basis.
Much of the soy is expected to be imported from the United States, where more than half of the crop is grown from GM seeds.
Petersen said he was not convinced that it was necessary for Europe’s feed sector to use GM soy even with the bone meal ban.
Even if there was a shortage of non-GM soy this season, Greenpeace and other activists were hoping to convince farmers to stop planting GM seeds to satisfy a demand from worried consumers in Europe and elsewhere.
CONCERNS ABOUT GMO’S IN MEAT
The European Union voted last year to require food producers to label their products as containing GM organisms if they cannot guarantee that each of the ingredients contain less than one percent GM material.
But there is no such labelling requirement for animal feed so a good way to raise awareness was through blocking shipments, Petersen said.
“Farmers don’t know what they are feeding their animals,” he said.
Greenpeace argues that there are a host of uncertainties on the effects of GM crops on the environment and human health and a ban is required until more research is completed.
Firms which sell GM seeds such as Monsanto (MON) say extensive tests have shown GM crops are not harmful.
Higher yields from GM crops are needed to feed a growing world population, its proponents say.
A recent report from Greenpeace””which has its global headquarters in Amsterdam””said some scientists were concerned that certain antibiotic resistance genes spliced into crops might transfer their resistance to micro organisms in animals through feed.
Petersen said Greenpeace is also concerned about current negotiations in Montpellier, France this week to implement the United Nations Biodiversity Protocol.
The protocol establishes rules for the international transport and use of GM or so-called living modified organisms and states that nations have the right to refuse such imports.
Greenpeace fears that the so-called Miami group of countries that export GM crops””including the United States, Canada and Argentina””will block agreement in Montpellier.
Although 78 countries have signed the protocol, only two have ratified it.