Fast-track Approval More Effective than GM Debate

EU - If the European Commission approves Roundup Ready 2 GM soya as early as next Friday - which it could - it will be a record response and it will demonstrate Brussels’ determination to protect European Union livestock farmers from soaring soya prices.
calendar icon 28 November 2008
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From next year major soya-growing countries will be growing considerable acreages of second generation Roundup Ready soybean and if Europe has not approved the variety, shippers may refuse to import soya from these countries in case shipments fall foul of Europe’s zero tolerance rule.

Some European countries remain steadfastly opposed to GMs. As a result approval of Roundup Ready 2 was blocked in September’s meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health and more recently ministers could not reach a qualified majority at Farm Council.

As a result, the dossier on Roundup ready 2 passed back to the Commission, which is likely to give go-ahead for the new variety before the end of the year. The European Food Safety Authority has already given a positive opinion on authorising the variety.

The Commission and the European Food Safety Authority understand what is at stake; feed industry officials have repeatedly explained that Roundup Ready 2 is probably the GM event most urgently in need of approval at European Union level.

If it is not approved, Europe’s zero tolerance policy on traces of non-approved GMs will likely make imports of soya from the United States or Brazil untenable.

At the last Farm Council meeting, Dutch minister Gerda Verburg stressed the need for a serious discussion about GMOs in general and the socio-economic impact of European Union non-approval of GMOs in particular. If such a discussion takes place it could be at the Environment Council meeting on Thursday December 4.

United States production of Roundup Ready 2 soya for next year’s harvest adds an urgency to the need for a settlement among ministers to prevent Europe’s soya imports bill doubling, or even quadrupling.

Brussels beieves an accelerated approval approach by the end of the year would probably be a more practical way of addressing the issue of asynchronous approvals than re-opening a heated debate on zero tolerance legislation.

Roundup Ready 2 has been formally approved for import by China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia.

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