GM animal feeds needed to contain prices

Europe needs to become more accepting of GM technology or suffer financially as the number of countries able to deliver GM-free feed starts to shrink.

Addressing the Hungarian Agriculture Council in Budapest, EU farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel acknowledged the problems the current high price of cereals was making for some parts of the farming industry.

As a result, the EU Commission had already scrapped set-aside for 2008 and planned to suspend all import tariffs on cereals.

“But, in the medium term, we must also look at the issue from the perspective of the debate about genetically modified organisms,” she said.

“There is a growing number of GM crops which are authorised for use by our trade partners, but not by us. In the past, this has caused us anxiety more in connection with soyabeans than with maize.

 “But times change. We now need to import more maize, but are less and less able to set the tone on the world market. China and other emerging countries are now also big importers and do not all share our hesitations about GMOs.

“In this situation, many Argentine maize-producers appear to be switching to GM varieties. If this happens on a large scale, Brazil will be our only significant non-GM supplier. And who knows how long the Brazilians would hold out?

“I am certainly not arguing that we in the European Union should authorise GM products which science tells us to reject. But where science has given a product a clean bill of health, that fact must be paramount as we follow the authorisation procedure.

“Otherwise, hesitations about new GM products may really bite economically.”

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