April 22, 2015

Today, the European Commission proposed to let individual European Union governments opt out of trade in imports of genetically modified (GM) grain for use in food and animal feed.

A coalition of EU food and feed chain partners has rejected this proposal, which it says will impede trade, destroy jobs in Europe and generally wreak havoc in Europe and its trading partners.

Speaking on behalf of EU Food and Feed Chain partners, Pekka Pesonen, Copa-Cogeca Secretary General, warned the European Commission about the adverse economic and social impact of this proposal which was released today. “It will seriously threaten the Internal Market for food and feed products, causing substantial job losses and lower investment in the agri-food chain in ‘opt-out’ countries. This would cause serious distortions of competition for all EU agri-food chain partners”, he stressed.

The food and feed chain partners’ full statement can be found here. The same group has previously published a longer position paper on the same topic.

EuropaBio has published a Q&A as well as two infographics in addition that illustrate the EU’s dependence on trade in GM grain, primarily soybeans and soy-based products:

Spain’s Antama Foundation published a statement (in Spanish) about the expected negative impact of such a change on Spanish livestock farmers.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman blasted the proposal as “not constructive” in the context of ongoing U.S.-EU negotiations about removing barriers to trade.

In advance of the Commission’s proposal, the European Seed Association published an insightful commentary on the Commission’s latest nutty idea.

Here’s a link to a good Bloomberg story about the Commission’s proposal, putting it in the context of a decades-long debate between scientists (including the European Food Safety Authority) who say GM crops and foods are safe and anti-GMO campaigners and pliant politicians who say they aren’t.

Politico’s story quotes a number of other stakeholders — all unhappy with the Commission’s proposal, albeit for different reasons.

It’s worth noting that even the Commission, in a fact sheet published today along with its proposal, states that all the GM imports in question are perfectly safe (“All EU-authorised GMOs have been proved to be safe before their placing on the EU market”). It also highlights the fact that the EU needs more than 36 million tonnes equivalent of soybean every year to feed its livestock whilst the EU produces only 1. 4 million tonnes annually. In addition, it is mentioned that around 90% of imported soybean is GM.

We will add other statements to this page as we see them so please check back here if you are interested in updates.

Just as a reminder, GM seeds represent less than half a percent of Monsanto’s business in Europe. This is not our focus here, as several previous blog posts explain. But we believe in the single market and fair trade and science and like many are disturbed by the EU’s inceasing tendency to reject them in response to intense lobbying by campaign groups, many of which are actually funded by DG Environment with EU taxpayer money.

What do you think? Is this proposal a step forwards or a bad joke?



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