German food retailers demand return to non-GE poultry feed

The German food retailers have demanded that the German Poultry Association (ZDG) stop the use of genetically engineered (GE) feed starting from January 1st 2015.

By broad consensus, the German food retailers have demanded that the ZDG stop using GE feed for both egg and poultry meat production, starting January 1, 2015. That is the date when the retailers want to receive GE-free fed products again.

The discussions started in February 2014 when the ZDG withdrew its 14-year-old commitment to only use non-GE soybeans in poultry feed. The step was based on the supply shortage of non-GE soy, the risk of contamination and the legal uncertainty associated with it. The move created a lot of resentment among large and powerful retail giants like Kaufland, Rewe and Edeka. Even large ZDG members like Plukon and Deutsche Frühstücksei did not follow their association's lead.

According to Lebensmittelzeitung, Janning, CEO of ZDG, will no longer rule out a return of the entire industry to feeding non-GMO: "We are not categorically against it." However, he noted that first the critical points should be examined without prejudice.

For this purpose, a working group "Soy in Animal Feed" was established under the auspices of the QS animal welfare initiative. This is where the retailer representatives defined the long-term goal to abandon genetic engineering in the feed rations of the entire animal husbandry, including the feeding of pigs and cattle. The production of poultry meat is given priority.

Task and time schedules were agreed on providing for representative analyses for contaminations in feed as well as the clarification of legal issues in regards to labelling. If the working group comes to the conclusion that GE-free feeding is possible, Janning considers an industry agreement to be the right way to proceed. The starting point could then be the new soy harvest 2015.

Germany is a major livestock producer and is dependent upon imported soybeans and soybean meal as a feed protein source. Germany consumes more than 6 million metric tonnes (MT) of soybean meal equivalent annually, nearly all of it produced from GE varieties. The main suppliers are Argentina, Brazil and the United States. Soybeans are the largest US agricultural export to Germany; official data suggest the US share of the German soybean market has increased to 25 % in 2013.

[Source: US Gains report]

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