GM Import Decision 'a Step in the Right Direction'

EU - NFU Scotland has welcomed new EU measures agreed yesterday which will allow EU Member States to accept shipments of animal feed materials which include traces of not yet EU-approved genetically modified (GM) material up to 0.1 per cent.
calendar icon 24 February 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

It remains to be seen, however, whether the new rules will be sufficient to bring down the cost of imported vegetable protein.

The measures agreed yesterday by the EU’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) are intended stop shipments of feed material imported from third countries into the EU market from being turned back because of minute quantities of not yet approved GM grain. Previously, there was zero tolerance.

NFU Scotland’s Pigs and Poultry Policy Manager, Peter Loggie said, “It appears that after a sustained period of lobbying, some more sensible thinking has emerged on the presence of not yet approved GM in feed shipments. Member States have finally agreed to relax the rule on traces of such material that may be found in imported feed. NFUS hopes that this will take some of pressure off animal feed costs.

“Until now, Europe’s zero-tolerance approach had restricted feed imports from countries where new GM crops are widely grown, most notably in Argentina, Brazil and the United States. Even with thorough cleaning of the boats used for transporting materials, it is almost impossible to avoid trace contamination. Given that the EU needs to import almost 80 per cent of its protein requirements for livestock from those countries it is no wonder that UK farming unions have campaigned for years to introduce a low level of tolerance.

“The percentage is a step in the right direction but could still prove too low as the rocketing cost of shipping feed material from these countries and the bureaucratic hassle that entails when shipments are rejected has meant that third countries have begun developing markets elsewhere, largely in Asia, where livestock production is growing and where the process of gaining approval for new GM varieties is more rapid than the tortuous EU system.

The new measures also highlight the hypocrisy of EU legislation: livestock products from animals which have been fed on a 100 per cent diet of GM material not approved in the EU can still be imported. NFU Scotland continues to highlight this anomaly and will also continue to urge decision makers to pay attention to the EU’s own research which indicates that GMOs do not represent a greater hazard to human health or the environment than do their conventional counterparts.”

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