The European Union has adopted new rules allowing traces of unauthorised genetically modified (GM) material, below 0.1%, in animal feed imports. The feed sector is pleased, but it is not enough.
The move is in an effort to secure grain fodder supplies to the import-dependent countries within the EU.
"The regulation ... addresses the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed products imported from third countries," the Commission said in a statement.
The EU, its trading partners and the industry argue the 0.1% threshold is needed to avoid a repeat of supply disruptions in 2009, when US soy shipments to Europe were blocked after unapproved GM material was found in some cargoes.
Fefac happy, but...
“Trade problems resulting from asynchronous approval will remain serious threat to supplies for EU livestock and feed sector,” Feed manufacturers association president Patrick Vanden Avenne said.
He welcomed the so-called “technical solution“ for traces of not yet EU approved genetically modified organisms, and pointed to the increased legal certainty for feed business operators.
"There is now finally an analytical definition of the “zero” level, which continues to be requested from a political point of view. Test results on GMO traces can now be interpreted more accurately and are reproducible,” he said.
Vanden Avenne, however, highlighted the imminent risks for the supply of feedstuffs to the EU feed and livestock sector linked to the persisting slow pace of asynchronous approvals of GM crops in the EU.
“EU feed and livestock producers may lose access to maize products from Brazil and the US in the autumn of 2011 and possibly soy products from Brazil in spring 2012 due to the cultivation of new GM maize and soy events which have not yet and may not receive full EU approval prior to harvest in these countries.
“The “technical zero” laid down in the new regulation will not be sufficient to cover potential carry-over in shipments to the EU from GM seeds which have been sold for cultivation in key export countries”.
He, therefore, stressed that “there is no time for complacency: the EU must urgently continue its efforts to seek full synchronisation of EU approvals of GM crops with key exporting countries in order to safeguard vital feed supplies and the competitiveness of the EU livestock sector”.
Under the new measures the GM crops must have been approved in a non-EU producing country and an EU authorisation request must have been lodged with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for at least three months. EFSA must also have issued an opinion that the presence of GM products at 0.1% does not pose risks to health or the environment.
Only feed, not food
The 0.1% threshold will only apply to imports of animal feed and not human food, despite warnings from traders and exporting states that it is impractical and costly to separate global grain supplies into those destined for humans and those for animals.
The EU currently imports some 45 million tonnes of protein crops a year, much of it soy beans and soy meal from Brazil, Argentina and the U.S. destined for use as animal feed.