EU's stance on GM feeds blamed for raising costs
By Steve Dube
Western Mail (Wales), 1 July 2008
ZERO tolerance of genetically modified varieties is being blamed for restricting the flow of globally traded bulk commodities and adding to the rising price of raw materials.
A report commissioned by, among others, the European Feed Manufacturers' Federation Fefac and Coceral, which represents European traders in grains and oilseeds, says GM technology is being rapidly taken up around the world.
But it says new GM variety approval in the EU is continually frustrated at the political level and creating a widening gap in approvals between the EU and the rest of the world.
And the report says the current zero tolerance for non-approved varieties has created unacceptable risks for international trade because the cargo has to be returned to its country of origin if only a fraction is GM material and is detected, ”š irrespective of any testing before shipment.
The results have been dramatic and have effectively stopped imports of maize by-products. The report has been welcomed by the Agricultural Industries Confederation.
"This year when wheat and soya prices doubled, the livestock industry could not use imported US maize gluten, which has in the past been a valuable feed ingredient," said Tony Bell, chairman of AIC's feed executive committee. "The livestock industry paid dearly for the lack of these raw materials in a year of shortage and expensive cereal and protein supplies."
Mr Bell said the situation was going to get worse as new GM soya varieties were now being grown for seed multiplication. "Soya accounts for most of the 78% of vegetable protein which the EU needs to import and it cannot be fully replaced, either from domestic production or alternative imported products," he said.
Mr Bell said major suppliers were already unwilling to offer material after the 2009 US harvest because of the EU policy, and the fact that GM presence could be found in around 90% of global traded soya.
"Soya supplies are critical to the EU livestock industry, and there are real dangers that we will destroy our livestock industry due to lack of raw material supplies," he said. "This could lead to consumers depending on non-EU livestock products, which have been fed on the very same GM crops which the EU seeks to block.
"The EU needs to be practical and implement a tolerance threshold for GM events that are already approved by regulatory bodies outside the EU.
"This is not about being pro or anti-GM as all companies trade in both GM and non-GM feed materials. It is about seeking a practical and workable solution to protect EU livestock."
The EC is currently working on a new GM policy. Mr Bell said it should not lose sight of the threat of a paralysis in imports of soya and soya products. "The knock-on effect would be serious commercial and welfare issues for the whole EU livestock industry," he said.
Gill Rowlands, a farmer and member of GM Free Cymru, said EU policy on GM had nothing to do with the escalating price of livestock feed.
"Why does Mr Bell present a picture of the livestock industry being destroyed due to lack of raw material supplies?" she asked.
She said Brazil and Argentina supply almost all the EU's animal feed supplies.
Mrs Rowlands said: "There is no crop grown in Brazil that is not allowed in the EU and because of its huge landmass Brazil is able to grow separate GM and non-GM crops. There are separate roads, ports and ships used to avoid contamination.
"Argentina's soya crop may be almost entirely GM but the prevalent variety, which is Monsanto's Round Up Ready soya, is approved in the EU. So there is no problem for animal feed supplies there either."
She added: "Security and quality of animal feed supply in the EU would be best served by encouraging the southern EU countries to increase their production of maize."
NOTE: FOE Europe has an excellent briefing debunking the claims on this: