European Union officials Tuesday approved proposals to allow trace amounts of unauthorized genetically modified material in animal-feed imports.
Member states will now allow shipments to include traces of GM material of up to 0.1%.
The change in procedures "addresses the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed based on imports of raw materials from third countries," said Frederic Vincent, spokesman for the Health and Consumer Policy Ministry.
The measures are limited to GM feed material authorized for commercialization in a third country and for which an authorization procedure is pending in the EU, or of which EU authorization has expired, Vincent said.
Fefac is pleased
Patrick Vanden Avenne, president of the European feed manufacturers association Fefac, was pleased with the decision of EU Commission. “After more than two years of discussion, there is now finally an analytical definition of the ‘zero’ level, which continues to be requested from a political point of view,” he said.
“Test results on GMO traces can now be interpreted more accurately and are reproducible. This measure should safeguard vital supplies of new crop protein feeds from South America to our EU livestock industry.”
No weakening of GM-policy
Campaigners already said that such a move may signal a shift in the bloc's zero-tolerance attitude toward unauthorized biotechnology.
Fefac, however, opposes the view that the approved ‘technical solution’ means a weakening of the principle of the so-called zero tolerance for GMO.
The decision is first and foremost an important step towards more legal security, it said.
“Until now, the burden of proof of systematic or accidental differences between laboratories or analytical methods as well as mistakes in sampling or sample treatment exclusively rested on the feed chain. At least this situation should change now,” expects Vanden Avenne.
Complete separation is impossible
The complete separation of non-approved GM varieties in the supply chain dominated by bulk-handling for feed materials, is practically impossible, even if these varieties are cultivated in very low quantities in the producing countries.
The logistical burden for the feed sector to respect the new legislation will remain a major challenge for the feed sector which would require, in the medium and long term, a more comprehensive solution in form of a real Low-level presence threshold.