31 March 2000

Spell out GMrules, urge compounders

jljlll

All sectors of the

livestock industry

should benefit from

research presented at

last weeks British

Society of Animal

Science conference in

Scarborough, North

Yorks. The livestock

team reports on the

technical highlights

FEED compounders are calling for clear legislation on genetically modified feed ingredients and their use.

Speaking at the British Society of Animal Science annual meeting, feed industry consultant Brian Cook said that the current situation relating to feeding rations including GMs was confusing.

"We need clear legislation on labelling, with precise definitions. Current confusion comes from the authorities, supermarkets and media speaking on behalf of the so-called consumer, but Im not sure consumers understand whats going on.

"Supermarket groups should also limit their requirements to those laid down by law, rather than trying to score points over one another. Their demands should be based upon safety and fact, not consumer misconception."

Mr Cook told delegates that he believed EU feed compounders supported GM crop development. "They offer better feed materials by improving their nutritional content and reducing undesirable characteristics.

"The problem is that there is no requirement for labelling GM feed material. We are still waiting for the Novel Feeds Directive from the EU, but theres no decision on whether labelling should say that a feed may contain GMOs, or whether it is GMO-free."

However, member states interpretation of what constitutes a GM feed is different and could cause labelling problems, he warned.

"The UK and Netherlands accept that if the feed is processed and the DNA fragments are smaller than an individual gene then the material cannot be genetically viable. However, the French have a different approach, and believe that if a feed material contains any DNA fragments it constitutes a viable organism under the EU directive."

Confusion also exists within the UK, and supermarket demands could lead to a two-tier feed market developing, he warned. "These supermarkets have said they wont push prices up to consumers, so who will bear the cost of GM-free rations – farmers and feed compounders?"

He also believes that the spread of GM crops throughout the world is a concern, making it difficult for compounders to guarantee that their products are GM-free. "Even though Brazil doesnt grow GM soya, its crushers will take Argentinean and US soya, which may be GM, for crushing."

Additional confusion is likely after a newly published EU regulation on organic production states that any feed or additive must not have been produced from GMOs or GM products, and some supermarkets are taking this line.

"This would prevent the use of by-products from maize, soya and other crops. It would also have a severe impact on use of many feed additives. It is becoming increasingly difficult to produce efficient animal feeds without involving GM-derived materials."

Emma Penny

GM FEEDS

&#8226 Confusion abounds.

&#8226 Lack of legislation.

&#8226 Formulation concern.