The EU policy on GM feed is a complete mess and has handed a competitive advantage to third countries.
Moy Park non-executive chairman Trevor Campbell told the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference earlier this week that current strict GM rules effectively mean that EU producers can only use GM-free feed in chicken production.
The present EU zero-tolerance policy means no trading company will bear the risk of guaranteeing the absence of traces of GMO’s approved in some third countries but not yet in the EU in imported feed.
Brazil is the main source of non-GM soya however, its poultry industry is free to use imported Argentinean GM maize and then export the chicken to the UK.
The result is that imported chicken is being fed raw materials that UK producers don’t have access to, creating a competitive disadvantage, said Dr Campbell.
“Nobody wants to do that job [lead the market] and risk losing market share. It is a huge problem.”
A greater concern was that consumers were not prepared for the inevitable use of GM feed by EU producers. “There is about two years left to convince consumers.”
Dr Campbell believes it’s inevitable that GM will become mainstream because of the increasing challenge of sourcing sufficient quantities of non-GM soya.
“It’s not sustainable to keep to non-GM. It’s a complete mess in the EU.”
Egg producer and Farmers Weekly’s Farmer of the Year John Geldard suggested that it was up to retailers to take a lead in convincing the public that products from animals fed GM feed was safe. “Perhaps Waitrose could lead the way on this.”
However, Waitrose’s central buyer for poultry, fish and eggs Quentin Davies admitted that “nobody wants to do that job and risk losing market share. It is a huge problem.”