News last update:6 Aug 2012

EU soon to import GM soy

Since the ministers of the 27 countries in the EU failed to agree on import laws of genetically modified products, after a ten year period these products will be permitted for import.

Therefore the European Union will on 8 September approve imports of genetically modified soybeans made by Bayer CropScience, hoping to ease a shortage of animal feed. The rubber-stamp approval will be valid for a standard 10 years and be granted by the European Commission.

Bayer's A2704-12 soybean is developed to resist glufosinate herbicides will be imported into EU markets either as whole soybeans, oil or meal, and then be processed by European companies for use in food and animal feed. The beans cannot be cultivated in the EU.

The approval, which follows on from an inconclusive debate by EU farm ministers in July, may also allow the Commission to avoid proposing a controversial ceiling for amounts of unauthorised GM material tolerated in imports.

Zero tolerance policy
While the EU has approved a few GM products - mainly maize types - by default rubber-stamps since 2004, it does not permit the presence of any other GMO on EU territory, even in tiny amounts, until the EU approval for that product is granted. Allowing imports of Bayer's GM soybean, along with a few pending GM maize applications, should help achieve the aim of raising supply of raw material for animal feed, EU officials say.

It might also allow the Commission to avoid embarking on a legal proposal to allow unauthorised GM material into Europe that would certainly be controversial and divisive, they say. EU countries rarely agree on GM issues and discussions on authorising imports of new GM products usually end in deadlock. The EU's zero tolerance of unauthorised GM material has been a major headache for feedmakers and livestock producers.

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