European Biotechnology News / via AgBioView
July 14, 2009

http://www.eurobiotechnews.eu

Results of a brand-new study suggest that the EU will soon have to accept food and feed imports that carry tiny amounts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) not yet approved by the EU authorities. Otherwise prices might rise soon, according to the analysis of the EU’s think tank, the Institute of Prospective Research (ISPRA) in Seville, Spain. The asynchronous approval of GM crops, which is caused by national differences in regulation and political approval of GMOs, is at the heart of the problem, say the researchers.

Even today, global seed traders face the economic risk of shipment rejections at the EU borders, because the EU currently does not accept any admixtures with GM crops that haven’t been approved by the EU authorities. And that problem could intensify because the number of GM crops approved outside the EU will quadruple to 120 by 2015, the study suggests (for GMO pipeline see http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm . When complying with a zero tolerance policy for unapproved GMOs becomes impossible, exporters may only deal with "preferred buyers" who are known to create little problems, according to the ISPRA researchers.

The study backs claims of seed traders organised in the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) that is lobbying for a 0.9% tolerance threshold for all non EU-approved GMOs that have been safety-checked by authorities in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Codex Alimentarius GM plant guideline.
Experts told EuroBiotechNews that an economic problem for the EU may arise, when it comes to asynchronous approvals of GM soy lines, because the EU is dependent on imports of Argentinia (42% of imports) and Brazil (45% of imports). According to the study, 9 new genetically engineered soy lines can enter the market by 2015, one of them an insect-resistant soybean filed for approval in China.

The Commission has already recognised the problem. Last summer, Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou announced that the Commission will be proposing a threshold that would allow food and feed to enter the EU even if it contains traces of unauthorised genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But up to now nothing has happened.