Pig and poultry producers are being put in an “especially vulnerable” position by the latest European Commission (EC) proposal to “re-nationalise decision-making power on GM feed or food back to member states”, says the National Farmers Union (NFU).
Voicing “extreme concern” over the EC move, the union’s chief science and regulatory affairs adviser, Dr Helen Ferrier, commented: “Approval of GM feed and food must remain at an EU-wide level and must be firmly based on sound scientific evidence. National bans on imports would disrupt trade and threaten the single market, pushing up costs and damaging competitiveness across the whole supply chain.
“Feed is a major proportion of farm production costs. Pig and poultry sectors are especially vulnerable, where feed is 55-65% of cost of production. Any increase in the price of feed would put significant strain on food producers and would risk making the EU uncompetitive.”
Dr Ferrier was responding to EC confirmation this week that it will “allow individual member countries to ban farmers from using authorised GM varieties in animal feed”, a step which also drew a strong objection from Copa-Cogeca secretary general, Pekka Pesonen.
He warned the EC of the adverse economic and social impact of its proposal, saying: “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.”
Dr Ferrier agreed, adding: “The EU is almost entirely reliant on imports for its protein feed requirements, most of which are GM. National bans would seriously compromise many member states’ ability to produce pig and poultry meat, leading to greater imports from outside the EU.
“The practical and logistical difficulties of the proposal would also make it extremely disruptive and costly, if not impossible, to implement. The trade in GM feed is very well established across the whole of the EU, and is very different from the growing of GM crops. It would be unworkable to try to operate national bans for food and feed as have just been introduced for cultivation.”