The EU's system for importing poultry and other
livestock feeds made from genetically modified (GM) crops has been slammed
as â€œfundamentally unbalanced and discriminatoryâ€.
It is reported that the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and
Rural Development chairman Neil Parish believes that this is the case. He has
asked the European Commission to review its zero-tolerance regime on imported
feed stuffs containing traces of GM soya or maize.
With the power to veto or even dismiss the commission, the Parliament has
emerged as an important ally for livestock farmers who have to pay more for
feeds because of import restrictions.
Ireland hit the hardest
According to the Irish Examiner, Irish farmers are worst affected because
they rely more on imports of animal feed than any other EU country, with more
than 50% of animal feed ingredients imported.
Ironically, though, Ireland is one of the member states restricting feed
imports. Their votes against GM animal feeds in EU committees such as the
Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health reflect 58% opposition to
GM organisms among EU citizens.
Parish reportedly stated that EU consumers are offered imported meats, 90%
of which come from animals fed on GM crops, many of which are unapproved in the
Livestock farmers in Europe have to compete against these imports without
access to millions of tonnes of GM feeds from the US, Canada, Brazil and
Non-approved GM contamination rejected
Parish pointed out that any container arriving in an EU port from these
countries, with even a trace of non-approved GM contamination, may be sent back.
Meanwhile, farmers and feed millers in Ireland had to wait 34 months for
Herculex maize to be approved for import into the EU â€” more than 50 varieties of
GM feed await approval.
100% GM-free feed impossible
Parish has asked the commission to speed up its approval for new varieties
of GM feed deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
â€œIt is a great irony that we import poultry, pig and beef meet from outside
the EU from animals fed on products we deny our own farmers. This helps no one.
Consumers have no idea whether their meat has been fed on GM, and farmers have
to pay through the nose for feed,â€ commented Parish.
â€œWe also have to
address the zero tolerance issue. I am not suggesting a free-for-all on GM, but
we must ensure any threshold is fair and achievable for non-GM feed. With new
varieties of GM soya being planted around the world, it will be virtually
impossible to guarantee any shipment into the EU is truly GM-free. I doubt
anyone will bother sending GM-free shipments to the EU as a result, and this
will make non-GM feed even scarcer and more expensive for our farmersâ€¦ If the EU
does not take urgent action, we are in danger of exporting much of our industry
outside of the EU,â€ he concluded.