News last update:6 Aug 2012

EU food/feed industries want GMO flexibility

Europe's grain and food sector have joined forces to demand tolerance for minimal amounts of genetically modified material not yet allowed in EU markets.

EU feedmakers have long complained of problems sourcing raw material, warning that the consequences of Europe's extreme caution and "zero tolerance" of unauthorised GMOs, could be disastrous for the food and feed sectors.

Europe's food safety chief Markos Kyprianou has already promised to draft a proposal before early August that would permit very limited amounts - less than one percent - of unauthorised GM material to be detected in imports of foods like maize, rice and soybeans.

EU law sets a threshold of 0.9 percent for GM material in food and feed, above which a cargo must be labelled as biotech.

"It is simply impossible to guarantee the total absence of GM traces from countries where GM crops are widely grown," said Ruth Rawling, chairwoman of the food and feed safety unit at Coceral, the EU's major grain trade lobby, in a statement.

The problem for GM crop-growing countries, in particular the United States, Canada and Argentina, is that EU law at the moment does not tolerate the accidental presence of unauthorised GMOs that have been approved elsewhere.

That has led to cargoes of rice and grain arriving at EU ports being impounded by local authorities if sampling shows the presence of unauthorised GM material, disrupting trade flows.

The statement was published jointly by Coceral, the EU's main food industry association CIAA, animal feed manufacturers' body FEFAC, the Federation of European Rice Millers, as well as flour and maize millers' associations.

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