The European Union’s farm chief has urged governments to stop blocking imports of animal feed if it contains only traces of banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs), saying such policies harmed the meat sector.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said EU countries should look at scientific evidence rather than emotions when deciding on authorizations for new biotech products.
“The last thing farmers need now is an increase in feed prices. For some of them, it would be the last straw,” Fischer Boel told a GMO panel discussion in Brussels.
While the EU has approved a string of GMOs – mainly corn – by default rubberstamps since 2004, it does not permit other GMOs, even in minute amounts, until EU approval for that product is given.
EU animal feed buyers stopped importing U.S. soy after more than 2000,000 tonnes of shipments to Spain and Germany were found to contain traces of Monsanto’s and Syngenta’s GM corn.
Fischer Boel warned that worldwide availability of soybean could come under pressure because of drought in South America, low secondary stocks in the United States and increasing demand from China.
“If we let our livestock sector go to the wall, we would simply be in a situation where we import meat from U.S. or South America, fed with GMO feed on which we have absolutely no control. I think that would be the ultimate irony,” she added.
Even though the GM corn from Monsanto and Syngenta have been given the green light by the the European Food Safety Authority, EU ministers have failed to reach a qualified majority on whether to approve it.