SCOTLAND, UK - European proposals to re-nationalise policy on the use of animal feed containing GM are unworkable and could throw the Scottish, UK and European livestock sectors into disarray, said the Scottish National Farmers Union (NFU)
The European Commission is proposing to shift decision-making on GM feed or food back to Member States. The move would retain responsibility within Europe for the authorisation of new GM products but then allow the decision to be made at the Member State level whether or not to allow the use of any GM product in animal feed or food.
NFU Scotland believes that, if adopted, the policy could cause serious distortions across internal EU borders and goes against the principle of a common EU market. It would also be highly disruptive and virtually impossible to implement and police.
Scotland is already reliant on imports for its protein feed requirements, most of which is GM. Any change to that arrangement would have ramifications for many of the nation’s producers, particularly in the pig and poultry sectors, where imported protein is a huge part of rations.
The proposals were a key issue for discussion at a meeting of COPA, the umbrella group for European farming unions, taking place in Portugal and attended by NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie. Speaking from Lisbon, Mr Bowie said:
“With an increasing world population and growing demand for quality food, GM technology provides an opportunity to increase food production to meet their needs.
“However, all too often, it is rhetoric rather than science that drives the debate on GM and that is case here.
“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.
“Options for growing our own protein for animals remain limited so Europe will continue to be largely reliant on imports for the majority of its protein feed requirements. An estimated 90 percent of compound feed for the livestock sector currently contains GMO material.
“Were GMO feed not available to our farmers, the increase in costs associated in sourcing non-GMO feed would be prohibitive and render sections of our industry unviable. The price differential between GMO and GMO-free animal feed is already around 30 percent and supplies of non-GMO feed are extremely limited.”
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