EU makes a pig's ear of GM-free feed regulation

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Gm

EU makes a pig's ear of GM-free feed regulation
Farmers slam EU's zero tolerance approach

Farmers' leaders have raised the spectre that Britain's pig and poultry sectors could be "decimated" by spiralling genetically modified (GM)-free feed costs after a virtual ban on GM animal soya feed in the EU.

Meurig Raymond, deputy president of the National Farmers' Union, said the "zero tolerance" approach to GM contamination would cause feed prices to soar. "It could easily add £200/t in two years' time," he warned.

"The amount of land that is being planted with GM soya across the world has just rocketed," said Raymond. "So the chances of being able to purchase non-GM protein in the next two years is going to be difficult."

His harshest criticism was the slowness of the EU in authorising the use of new GM soya varieties and the low 0.9% tolerance level allowed for GM contamination in imported soya. "Unless the European Commission eases the conditions on tolerance, then it is going to make life difficult, particularly for the pig and poultry sector," he said.

Raymond called for a tolerance of 25-40% to be permitted. But he recognised getting agreement on this would take a long time. He claimed the French government was one of the main protagonists against GM technology and relaxing the tolerance levels. "They have changed their stance in the last couple of months and I can't understand why," he said.

The irony is that pigs and poultry fed on GM feedstock can be legally imported into the EU. "If we are uncompetitive in western Europe in pigs and poultry, we are going to be importing [more of] the product which has been fed on GM material anyway," he added. "So there is some hypocrisy here."

His concerns were echoed by Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority.

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