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More Freedom for EU to Decide on Use of GMO's for Food and Feed

Nutrition Breeding & genetics Economics +3 more

EU - The EU Commission has presented the outcome of its review of the decision-making process for the authorisation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as food and feed.

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This review derives from the Political Guidelines presented to the European Parliament in July 2014, on the basis of which this Commission was elected.

The review confirms the need for changes that reflect public views and allow national governments to have a greater say on the use of EU-authorised GMOs for animal (feed) or human (food) consumption.

As a result of this review, the Commission proposes to amend the legislation to confer upon Member States more freedom to restrict, or prohibit the use of EU-authorised GMOs in food or feed on their territory.

Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said: "I am pleased to deliver on one of the important commitments taken by this Commission, reviewing the legislation on the decision-making process on GMOs.

"The Commission has listened to the concerns of many European citizens, reflected in the positions expressed by their national governments. Once adopted, this proposal will, fully in line with the principle of subsidiarity, grant Member States a greater say as regards the use of EU- authorised GMOs in food and feed on their respective territories."

Concern from Farming Groups

The National Farmers Union (NFU) however is extremely concerned by the European Commission’s proposal.

Dr Helen Ferrier, NFU chief science and regulatory affairs adviser said: “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 per cent of cost of production. Any increase in price of feed would put significant strain on food producers and would risk making the EU uncompetitive.

“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 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," Ms Ferrier concluded.

The Scottish National Farmers Union (NFU) commented that the proposals are unworkable and could throw the Scottish, UK and European livestock sectors into disarray.

NFU Scotland’s President, 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."

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