GM stance hurts livestock sector

EUROPE’S anti-GM policies cost the livestock sector €2.57 billion in the past year, according to European organisations representing the cereal and livestock sectors, feed manufacturers and traders.

In their report submitted to the European Commission, they said the livestock sector was also hit by the poor 2007 harvest, but the inability to import feedstuffs also had a significant impact.

Zero tolerance of genetically modified crops not authorised in the EU has resulted in a huge reduction of imports of maize, maize gluten and biofuel by-products that Europe could use in feed or food, and helped to push animal feed prices to very high levels.

Most of the US, Argentine and Brazilian soybean crop harvested in 2010 will be from seeds of RR2Y, a new herbicide tolerant variety from Monsanto. The EU is estimated to be 78% dependent on imported vegetable proteins such as soya, and if it does not authorise RR2Y, the livestock industry fears it will be unable to find GM-free soya beans, because unavoidable residues from new GM varieties will be found in non-GM soya too.

This week, the commission’s health spokeswoman, Nina Papdoulaki, said the body has sent Roundup Ready 2 to the European Council for approval, putting it on track for final import clearance by autumn 2009. She said the EU will continue its “zero tolerance” policy on presence of unapproved varieties of GM plants in imported food and animal feed.

But feed importers fear that as GM crops become the norm outside the EU — more than 20 new traits are expected in GM soybeans alone within a few years — zero tolerance of GM content in grain and oilseed imports will become impossible to live up to, even in non-GM material.


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