GM feed relaxation welcome, but more urged

Farming bosses are calling for more from the EU when it comes to relaxing the rules governing feed imports with traces of unapproved GM materials.

The National Farmers’ Union said a decision by the EU to ease regulations was a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough.

The EU’s Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) has agreed to allow up to 0.1% of non-EU approved GM in feed imports. Ideally, this should take some much-needed pressure out of animal feed costs, farmers hope.

However the NFU fears the long-awaited change may not have much impact on the ground with farmers facing rising feed costs.

NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said: “The change only applies to the presence of material for which EU import licences have been applied, but not yet approved. Increasingly companies are simply not bothering to apply for licences in the EU – particularly for maize – since the process is long and costly and the major markets are in Asia not Europe.

“The new rules also only apply to imports destined for feed not food when you can’t always tell the final destination of maize. Finally, the GM material has to be one that has not been identified by the European Food Safety Authority as being susceptible to having adverse effects. We do not know how this will work, but there is a clear potential here for more delays and bottle-necks.

“As GM acreages increase globally, and new varieties come on to the market, there needs to be a pragmatic and workable system in place to deal with the traces of unintended GM material found in globally-traded bulk commodities such as soybeans and maize.

“Unless we find an effective solution to this issue we risk making the whole of the European livestock industry uncompetitive over time.”

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