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POLICY & REGULATION: Green GM stance to up feed prices







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TITLE:  GREEN GM STANCE TO UP FEED PRICES

SOURCE: Farmers Journal, Ireland

AUTHOR: Pat O’Keeffe

URL:    http://www.farmersjournal.ie/2007/0630/news/currentedition/index.shtml

DATE:   30.06.2007

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GREEN GM STANCE TO UP FEED PRICES

 

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please read the other Farmers Journal articles and related comments at:

http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/index.php, 30 June 2007

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Feed prices, which have already increased by between 40 and 60% in the past year, look set to increase even further following a controversial EU vote on Monday to reject the use of a variety of Genetically Modified (GM) maize.

In a move that has caused anger in the feed trade, Ireland abstained from Monday’s vote at the EU Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health. As recently as last Thursday, Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan had signalled that Ireland would be voting in favour of allowing the importation of ”Herculex” maize into Europe. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had deemed to product to be safe. ”Herculex” is a maize variety produced by Pioneer and it is now authorised in ten countries. It is modified with a gene that makes it resistant to maize rootworm.

Junior Minister for Agriculture Trevor Sargent confirmed to the Farmers Journal that over the weekend he had discussions on the matter and that ”these discussions resulted in a longer term view been taken on the issue.” ”If we had voted to roll-over on Herculex we’d find it impossible to get GM free status.” He rejected any suggestion that the decision would lead to a scarcity in supplies of GM-free animal feed ingredients and said that there were ample supplies available. However, sources in the feed trade strongly disagree. ”There is only one certainty; the action of the Government is going to lead to far higher feed cost for farmers,” according to animal feed consultant Michael Ennis.

He said that Ireland annually imports approximately 800,000 tonnes of corn gluten and distillers grains from the US, from a total import of about 2.9m tonnes.

IFA president Padraig Walshe said that the decision has to be rescinded by the Council of Ministers ”as a matter of urgency”. He said that, as recently as last Thursday, he had received assurances from the Department of Agriculture that Ireland would be voting in favour of allowing Herculex product to be used in Europe.

The decision to abstain was particularly annoying, given that Ireland had raised the issue with the Commission in the first place, Walshe said.

As of this week, merchants were being told that corn gluten is not available, while supplies of distillers grains are limited. Those products would generally make up 25-30% of a typical coarse beef ration. They will now have to be replaced by other ingredients, almost certainly at a higher cost.

The move comes against the background of a major EU Commission report (see page 4) which warns that European agriculture will find it increasingly difficult to source non-GM feed, as major exporters such as the US, Brazil and Argentina plant increased acreages of GM crops.

The report warns that if major producers continue to adopt the use of non-EU approved GM varieties, it will have drastic consequences for the EU pig and poultry sectors in particular. Ironically, EU produced pork and poultry would then be replaced by imported meat product - produced using the same GM feeds banned from Europe.

The report identifies major feed importers such as Ireland as being vulnerable. Concerning soybeans and soybean meal, the EU imports vast volumes of these feed products which would be difficult to replace by alternative protein rich feed.

Feed price across the world have already risen sharply due to increased demand from the feed and biofuel trades. Figures obtained by the Farmers Journal show that in the past 12 months, the price of distillers grains has surged by 59%, while the important corn gluten is up a massive 59%.


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