Scotland’s farming leaders have pitched into the GM/animal feed debate with a stark warning that the European Commission (EC) plan to let member states decide for themselves on the issue is “unworkable” and could throw the whole European livestock sector into disarray.
“With an increasing world population and growing demand for quality food, GM technology provides an opportunity to increase food production to meet their needs,” said NFU Scotland president, Allan Bowie. “However, all too often, it is rhetoric rather than science that drives the debate on GM and that is case here.”
Commenting on the EC plan to shift decision-making on GM feed, back to member states, he added: “With this proposal, Europe runs the risk of setting a dangerous precedent which goes against the core principle of having common policies that operate across Europe. Approval of GM feed and food must remain at an EU-wide level and be firmly based on sound scientific evidence.
“Opening the door to nations or regions introducing unilateral arrangements would wreak havoc on existing trade, undermine competitiveness across Europe and drive up costs for those producers affected.”
Mr Bowie, speaking from a Copa-Cogeca meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, also warned that the limited options for growing protein for animals within Europe means the EU will continue to be largely reliant on imports for the majority of its protein feed requirements. He also highlighted the fact that an estimated 90% of compound feed for the livestock sector currently contains GM material.
“Were GM feed not available to our farmers, the increase in costs associated in sourcing non-GM feed would be prohibitive and render sections of our industry unviable,” he said. “The price differential between GM and GM-free animal feed is already around 30% and supplies of non-GM feed are extremely limited.”