The European livestock sector is losing €2.5bn a year thanks to EU time-wasting on authorising GM feeds and a zero-tolerance policy on new GM varieties, according to a report by agricultural trade researchers.

While feed prices have been hit by poor harvests and world-wide shortages, EU import bans on GM maize have pushed up prices further, the report by organisations including the Agricultural Industries Confederation says.

An estimated 15% of losses in the sector are caused by EU delays, it adds.

The researchers, who have sent their report to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso, said policy needed to change before the livestock industry was “destroyed” due to lack of feeds.

AIC said the situation would get worse unless EU policy towards GMs was altered.

With new GM varieties due to be commercialised in 2009, increased use of GM crops in North America and Brazil and GM residues contaminating non-GM crops, finding importers who could provide non-GM soya feeds would become increasingly difficult, AIC said.

The EU is 78% dependent on imported animal proteins like soya and there are few domestic alternatives, it added.