The entire EU poultry industry was threatened with “meltdown” if urgent action was not taken to deal with the issue of genetically modified (GM) crop products, warned Pedro Correa de Barros, president of FEFAC, the European Feed Manufacturers Federation last month.

Poultry producers, alongside other livestock farmers, were facing a huge competitive disadvantage because of restrictions surrounding the use of GM feeds, he told the Agra Informa World Poultry 2009 conference in London.

Mr de Barros believed the EU feed and food industry was threatened by a serious potential shortage of soya products, and called for action on two fronts. The first of these was more approvals at EU level of applications for import and processing of GM varieties, and at a pace which matched that of the main raw material exporting countries.

The second was a legal recognition of the widespread presence of risk-assessed GM plant products at low levels, and the establishment of a workable threshold.

In the UK, the self-imposed ban by supermarkets on stocking GM-fed poultry was even more acutely affecting the industry here, claimed Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council. There was a danger that the whole UK poultry industry could be exported to those countries where GM feeds were permitted. GM-free rations were typically costing UK producers £30 more than GM, a premium that was likely to rise as they became increasingly short.

Even though GM-free soya would still be available at a premium, there was also the increasing likelihood that contamination of the supply chain with GM material in the future would raise it above the accepted threshold.

  • The soya market worldwide remains volatile and demand for both GM and non-GM soya remains strong. Prices have been rising again since March due to drought in South America and concerns about US stock levels. The US price for GM soya has risen by $100/t (£63) since March to nearly $450 (£282).