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EU rule changes to amounts of GM in animal feed dont go far enough


An EU agreement to relax the rule governing feed imports with traces of genetically modified materials not yet approved in Europe is a step in the direction but doesnt go far enough, the NFU said today.

The EUs Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) has agreed to allow up to 0.1 percent of non-EU approved GM in feed imports. Ideally, this should take some much-needed pressure out of animal feed costs.

However the NFU fears the long-awaited change may not have much impact on the ground with farmers facing rising feed costs.

NFU Director of Policy Martin Haworth said: The change only applies to the presence of material for which EU import licences have been applied, but not yet approved. Increasingly companies are simply not bothering to apply for licences in the EU – particularly for maize – since the process is long and costly and the major markets are in Asia not Europe.

The new rules also only apply to imports destined for feed not food when you cant always tell the final destination of maize. Finally, the GM material has to be one that has not been identified by the European Food Safety Authority as being susceptible to having adverse effects. We do not know how this will work, but there is a clear potential here for more delays and bottle-necks.

As GM acreages increase globally, and new varieties come onto the market, there needs to be a pragmatic and workable system in place to deal with the traces of unintended GM material found in globally-traded bulk commodities such as soybeans and maize.

Unless we find an effective solution to this issue we risk making the whole of the European livestock industry uncompetitive over time.

Until now Europes zero tolerance approach to GM crops had restricted feed imports from countries where non-EU approved GM crops were widely grown most notably in North and South America. This approach meant shipments of feed could be refused entry into the EU if there was a discovery of a low level presence of GM crop not yet approved in the EU.  With EU farmers importing the majority of their protein feed from these countries it has become increasingly difficult for exporters to operate. This in turn has squeezed supplies and pushed the price of feed up.

The proposal to allow a Low Level Presence (LLP) of GMs was today accepted by the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). It will become a Commission Regulation three months from now if there are no objections from the European Council or the European Parliament

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