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[genet-news] BUSINESS & FEED: International Egg Commission warns about 600% feed cost increase

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SOURCE: Farming, UK



DATE:   15.04.2009

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This is a story from the Ranger magazine which is mailed to members of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association. To join the Association visit

An economic analyst has warned that egg producers could face huge increases in the cost of feed unless the European Union changes its approach to GM crops.

Peter van Horne, an economic analyst with the International Egg Commission, told the IEC London Conference that expenditure on feed could rise by as much as 600 per cent if the EU did not act. It needed to speed up the approval process for new varieties of genetically modified crops and adopt a more relaxed approach to those varieties awaiting approval.

He told the conference that there had been a rapid increase in the cultivation of GM crops and this could prove to be a problem, particularly in Europe. ?In Europe at the moment there is a very lengthy process to approve new GMOs. At the same time we see GM crops rapidly increasing and EU livestock dependent on imported soya bean products. He said the agriculture ministry in Holland had been trying to assess the possible impact of these developments. He warned that a failure to act by the EU could have serious consequences for egg producers.

He said that of the ingredients going into EU feed, maize was wholly produced within Europe to EU standards. Three quarters of the soya in EU feed, however, was imported. Brazil was the only large exporter of conventional soya to the EU and Brazilian growers were increasingly moving to GM crops, said Peter van Horne, who said all three of the biggest soya producers were moving to GM. Some 90 per cent of the soya beans grown in the United States were now GM, Argentina was predominantly GM and Brazil the smallest GM producer of the big three ? was now 60 per cent committed to genetically modified soy. It was estimated that by 2010 the percentage of Brazilian soya dedicated to GM would have risen to 80 per cent.

He said the economics of the market meant that egg producers were going to face increasing feed costs. There was an additional cost in growing non-GM soya. GM varieties produced a bigger yield. Both fertiliser and pesticide costs were lower when growing GM soya. ?There will be limited access to non-GM,? said Peter van Horne. He said that this, together with the EU?s reliance on imports of soya, would lead to higher feed costs and this would, as a result, make the egg industry in the EU less competitive.

He said that in 2007 DG-Agri had conducted a study which looked into the possible impact of the GM issue on Europe. He said the medium case scenario offered by the survey predicted increased feed prices and higher prices for pork and poultry products. The worst case scenario warned that expenditure on feed could rise by as much as 600 per cent.

He said it was ironic that at a time when there was growing concern about sustainability, GM crops were a more sustainable option than conventional crops. ?GM crops are more sustainable because they produce higher yields, they need less land and they use less pesticide. They are more beneficial to the environment,? said Peter van Horne, who said that in opposing GM crops, organisations like Greenpeace were opposing something that was beneficial in terms of sustainability.

?New varieties of GM crops are coming to the market and they will need to be approved by the EU,? he said. With the wide spread of GM crops, the EU?s zero tolerance of GM varieties awaiting approval, together with its slowness in approving new varieties, it was likely that in the near future feed sourcing problems would become more severe.

He said the EU needed to speed up its approval process to help ease the problem. ?Two to three years is a long time,? he said. The EU also needed to move away from a zero tolerance of new varieties awaiting approval.



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