No end in sight for US feed import ban

22-12-2006 | |

Little chance is seen in shipments of US maize gluten or distillers’ products being accepted into Europe before the end of winter, reports Trident’s Neil Woolf. Despite hopes of imports restarting under the EU-imposed testing scheme to screen all potential export material before it leaves the US, it seems potential shipments are continuing to test positive for the unapproved Herculex Root Worm (HXRW) GM-maize variety.

As a result, livestock producers who’ve only taken partial cover so far this
winter in the hope of imports arriving in early 2007 are being urged to secure
supplies of alternatives as soon as possible. “The interim agreement of testing
was supposed to allow a resumption of imports, but it now appears virtually
impossible to fill a complete boat with HXRW-free material,” explains Mr Woolf.
“Although the EU has imposed a limit of 0.1% on testing for HXRW DNA, the
sensitivity of the test means that virtually all samples are showing positive
results. Not only these loads have to be distributed elsewhere now, the
shippers’ confidence is also being put to the test. Why risk the costs involved
in preparing a boat for Europe given recent test results?”

Good value
“Fortunately, the alternatives that are still available
remain good value, despite the ongoing pressure on supply,” Mr Woolf continues.
“The most obvious are Scottish distillers’ pellets, which have always been
better value nutritionally than their imported counterparts. Other options
include the use of custom blends formulated specifically to fill the nutrient
gap left in the ration, or if your system allows, consider using liquid feeds
and/or moist feeds.” At a meeting of the Standing Committee Working Group on GM
feed and food, held on Friday 15th December, attempts to resolve the matter were
‘inconclusive’, although affected EU member states spoke in favour of finding a
solution. The issue is due to be discussed again at a full Standing Committee
meeting in mid January.

EU approval probably next
Although it is hoped that the January meeting can break the
stalemate, reliable supplies are now unlikely to arrive until the maize variety
in question achieves EU approval, expected to be March/April 2007 at the
earliest. This means the first shipments won’t be seen in the UK until at least
the spring.

Farmers concerned about any potential shortfall in feed
supplies this winter can contact Trident direct on +1 01733 422220 for advice on
the most cost-effective alternatives.

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