German poultry industry gives up GMO-free promise
The German poultry farmers association (ZDG) recently withdrew its 14 year old commitment to only use non-GMO soybeans in poultry feed. ZDG stated that imports of non-GMO soybeans are no longer reliable since Brazil will reportedly cut supplies by 50% in 2014.
ZDG also said that the danger of cross-contamination between GMO and conventional crops puts producer and handlers at legal risk in the EU. Germany is one of the EU's largest poultry producers, using over 800,000 tons of soybean meal annually as a protein feed ingredient.
"The German poultry industry has made great efforts to offer poultry meat from animals raised on GMO-free feeds" but that "chicken and turkey production cannot be undertaken in Germany without use of genetic technology" the association said.
"Specialized factories for the production of poultry feed require a continuous supply of uncontaminated GMO-free soybeans, but supplies can no longer be guaranteed in the required volumes."
Germany is one of the EU's largest poultry meat producers. In 2013, Germany produced about 1.4 million tons of poultry meat (out of total EU production of about 12.5 million tons). Germany is also one of the EU's largest users of soybeans and soybean meal, importing for all uses (feed, biofuels, etc.) about 6.8 million tons of soybeans and products in 2013.
Chicken and turkey farmers in Germany annually use about 4.1 million tons of animal feed, of which soy meal is a key protein component. It is estimated that German poultry famers use over 800,000 tons of soybean meal annually, a figure that is not likely to change much even if the industry and uses GMO soybeans more broadly.
German poultry production has been a celebrated success story in recent years, buoyed by both rising production and rising consumption. The ZDG announcement is a clear signal that producers do not want to be limited to a single product type or supplier of animal protein feed.
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