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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: EU committee voted to allow traces of unapproved GMOs in feed imports



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   EU EXPERTS APPROVE TRACE GM IN FEED IMPORTS: OFFICIAL

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Charlie Dunmore

URL:     http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/22/us-eu-gmo-imports-idUSTRE71L3V420110222

DATE:    22.02.2011

SUMMARY: "An EU committee voted on Tuesday to allow traces of unapproved genetically modified material in animal feed imports, the European Commission said, in a bid to secure grain supplies to the import-dependent bloc. EU governments and lawmakers now have three months to either approve or reject the committee?s decision, before the rules can be adopted by the EU executive as law."

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EU EXPERTS APPROVE TRACE GM IN FEED IMPORTS: OFFICIAL

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An EU committee voted on Tuesday to allow traces of unapproved genetically modified (GM) material in animal feed imports, the European Commission said, in a bid to secure grain supplies to the import-dependent bloc.

EU governments and lawmakers now have three months to either approve or reject the committee?s decision, before the rules can be adopted by the EU executive as law.

?In all likelihood the measure will be adopted by member states and EU parliamentarians, even if we expect a lively debate in the European Parliament,? one EU diplomat involved in the negotiations said.

The Commission, industry and exporting countries argue the 0.1 percent threshold is needed to avoid a repeat of supply disruptions in 2009, when U.S. soy shipments to Europe were blocked after tiny quantities of unapproved GM material were found in some cargoes.

The limit ?addresses the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed based on imports of raw materials from third countries,? the Commission said in a statement.

The EU imported more than 51 million tonnes of animal feed last year, worth almost 15 billion euros ($20.5 billion), according to Commission trade statistics. About half was GM soy from Brazil and Argentina developed by U.S. biotech company Monsanto.

Green groups accused the EU executive of caving in to GM-industry lobbying by reversing its ?zero-tolerance? policy on unauthorized crops. Some environmentalists argue that the effect of consuming GM crops is unknown and say these have not completed the EU?s safety assessment process.

They said the move was an unnecessary solution to a problem that does not exist.

?Weakening safety rules to appease the animal feed industry compromises human and environmental safety,? said Friends of the Earth food campaigner Mute Schimpf.

But the head of EU feedmakers? association Fefac, Patrick Vanden Avenne, said the decision would ?safeguard vital supplies of new crop protein feeds from South America to our EU livestock industry.?

RULES STRENGTHENED

Earlier this month the same EU committee failed to reach the necessary majority to approve the rules, because of opposition from some countries, including France.

But on Tuesday France voted in favor, after the conditions that unapproved GM crops must meet in order for the threshold to apply were strengthened, sources close to the committee said.

?The criteria are stricter now than originally envisaged,? said another EU diplomat.

The GM crops in question must have been approved in a non-EU producing country and an EU authorization request must have been lodged with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for at least three months, the diplomat said.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   EU PERMITS GM MATERIAL IN FEED

SOURCE:  All About Feed, THe Netherlands

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.allaboutfeed.net/news/eu-permits-gm-material-in-feed-5306.html

DATE:    22.02.2011

SUMMARY: "European Union officials Tuesday approved proposals to allow trace amounts of unauthorized genetically modified material in animal-feed imports.

Member states will now allow shipments to include traces of GM material of up to 0.1%. The change in procedures ?addresses the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed based on imports of raw materials from third countries,? said Frederic Vincent, spokesman for the Health and Consumer Policy Ministry."

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EU PERMITS GM MATERIAL IN FEED

European Union officials Tuesday approved proposals to allow trace amounts of unauthorized genetically modified material in animal-feed imports.

Member states will now allow shipments to include traces of GM material of up to 0.1%.

The change in procedures ?addresses the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed based on imports of raw materials from third countries,? said Frederic Vincent, spokesman for the Health and Consumer Policy Ministry.

The measures are limited to GM feed material authorized for commercialization in a third country and for which an authorization procedure is pending in the EU, or of which EU authorization has expired, Vincent said.

Fefac is pleased

Patrick Vanden Avenne, president of the European feed manufacturers association Fefac, was pleased with the decision of EU Commission. ?After more than two years of discussion, there is now finally an analytical definition of the ?zero? level, which continues to be requested from a political point of view,? he said.

?Test results on GMO traces can now be interpreted more accurately and are reproducible. This measure should safeguard vital supplies of new crop protein feeds from South America to our EU livestock industry.?

No weakening of GM-policy

Campaigners already said that such a move may signal a shift in the bloc?s zero-tolerance attitude toward unauthorized biotechnology.

Fefac, however, opposes the view that the approved ?technical solution? means a weakening of the principle of the so-called zero tolerance for GMO.

The decision is first and foremost an important step towards more legal security, it said.

?Until now, the burden of proof of systematic or accidental differences between laboratories or analytical methods as well as mistakes in sampling or sample treatment exclusively rested on the feed chain. At least this situation should change now,? expects Vanden Avenne.

Complete separation is impossible

The complete separation of non-approved GM varieties in the supply chain dominated by bulk-handling for feed materials, is practically impossible, even if these varieties are cultivated in very low quantities in the producing countries.

The logistical burden for the feed sector to respect the new legislation will remain a major challenge for the feed sector which would require, in the medium and long term, a more comprehensive solution in form of a real Low-level presence threshold.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   EU MOVES TO ALLOW TRACES OF GMO IN FEED

SOURCE:  The Associated Press, USA

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0rl76SNLpLbHCG9OBJxfl1LBTgg?docId=880b27cda32246c6b19a74becfe82e7d

DATE:    22.02.2011

SUMMARY: "A European Union committee on Tuesday approved rules that would allow the import of animal feed contaminated with small traces of genetically modified crops. [...] Tuesday?s decision by a panel of experts from the 27 EU countries could be a breakthrough for such major exporters such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina. It was immediately welcomed by the European feed industry and condemned by environmental groups."

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EU MOVES TO ALLOW TRACES OF GMO IN FEED

BRUSSELS (AP) ? A European Union committee on Tuesday approved rules that would allow the import of animal feed contaminated with small traces of genetically modified crops.

The EU Commission and Parliament are expected to accept the rule by this summer, which would change the bloc?s attitude toward biotech food.

Tuesday?s decision by a panel of experts from the 27 EU countries could be a breakthrough for such major exporters such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina. It was immediately welcomed by the European feed industry and condemned by environmental groups.

For several years, the EU has been engaged in a highly political dispute about whether to continue the bloc?s full zero-tolerance policy toward biotech food or allow some genetically modified products which are deemed safe.

Unlike the United States, where using genetically modified crops has become a widely accepted practice, Europe has remained extremely hesitant to embrace biotech food, fearing possible negative effects on nature and consumers alike.

Consumer groups and environmentalists have argued that even trace amounts of contaminated imports were an excessive concession.

?There is absolutely no reason to allow contaminated food to be fed to animals in Europe. Weakening safety rules to appease the animal feed industry compromises human and environmental safety,? said Friends of the Earth Europe food spokesperson Mute Schimpf.

Greenpeace wants to maintain a zero tolerance policy. Organization spokesperson Stefanie Hundsdorfer warned that the new rules are possibly the first of many concessions.

?Setting a tolerance threshold, however low, is a sign that Europe is losing control over its own food production to please American exporters,? said Hundsdorfer. ?The danger now is that EU countries come under pressure from the pro-GM lobby to also allow GM contamination in food products for direct human consumption.?

The European fodder business has said European farming was low on the protein feed needed to fatten cattle, and approval of the rule would help clear that.

It also said whole shipments of feed could be halted for minute traces of contamination. ?This measure should safeguard vital supplies,? said FEFAC industry federation president Patrick Vanden Avenne.

The federation says that currently some 50 million tons of feed a year are imported to meet demand of some 465 million tons overall.



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   EU AGREES TO ALLOW TRACES OF GM CROPS IN EU ANIMAL FEED

SOURCE:  Agence France Press, France

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hiXutTvOI0_5p4VhbQ6B9UzIwj5w?docId=CNG.62d0f19e811f8964214ef942867ff5e8.6f1

DATE:    22.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Crops containing tiny traces of genetically modified produce will be allowed to enter the European food chain for the first time under plans approved by EU governments Tuesday and attacked by environmental campaigners. A European Commission proposal to end import restrictions on animal foodstuffs containing traces of GM crops, up to a 0.1-percent threshold, was slammed as ?overturning the EU?s ?zero tolerance? policy,? by Friends of the Earth expert Mute Schimpf."

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EU AGREES TO ALLOW TRACES OF GM CROPS IN EU ANIMAL FEED

BRUSSELS ? Crops containing tiny traces of genetically modified produce will be allowed to enter the European food chain for the first time under plans approved by EU governments Tuesday and attacked by environmental campaigners.

A European Commission proposal to end import restrictions on animal foodstuffs containing traces of GM crops, up to a 0.1-percent threshold, was slammed as ?overturning the EU?s ?zero tolerance? policy,? by Friends of the Earth expert Mute Schimpf.

France obtained a change which will mean only GM crops that have already been given the go-ahead by European Union food security experts would be allowed to enter the food chain in this way.

The commission more broadly wants restrictions by national authorities on GM crop cultivation removed because they flout World Trade Organization rules but it faces a legal maze of opposition within the EU largely due to greater consumer concerns than in the United States.

Schimpf said that ?weakening safety rules to appease the animal feed industry compromises human and environmental safety.?

The European Parliament has still to have its say on Tuesday?s decision, within a three-month deadline.

Greenpeace slammed the decision on the same grounds, arguing that ?contamination? will be all the greater because the EU imports animal feed massively from the United States, Brazil and Argentina, countries responsible for 80 percent of global GM cultivation.

A top US trade official said earlier this month she would bang down the door of the commission in a bid to break the longstanding impasse blocking the advance of genetically-modified foods.

?When Europeans come to the United States, they come and enjoy our cuisine with no concerns whatsoever,? Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said.

?Why should we have different standards in Europe?

?We have very strict safety standards -- as do you -- and I think that alone is good reason to make sure that our products are able to be sold in Europe,? she insisted.



                                  PART 5

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   EU CHANGES TO GM IN ANIMAL FEED NOT ENOUGH

SOURCE:  Farming, UK

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.farminguk.com/news/EU-changes-to-GM-in-animal-feed-not-enough_19932.html

DATE:    22.02.2011

SUMMARY: "An EU agreement to relax the rule governing feed imports with traces of genetically modified materials not yet approved in Europe is a step in the direction but doesn?t go far enough, the NFU said today. [...] NFU Director of Policy Martin Haworth said: ?The change only applies to the presence of material for which EU import licences have been applied, but not yet approved. Increasingly companies are simply not bothering to apply for licences in the EU - particularly for maize - since the process is long and costly and the major markets are in Asia not Europe."

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EU CHANGES TO GM IN ANIMAL FEED NOT ENOUGH

An EU agreement to relax the rule governing feed imports with traces of genetically modified materials not yet approved in Europe is a step in the direction but doesn?t go far enough, the NFU said today.

The EU?s Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) has agreed to allow up to 0.1 percent of non-EU approved GM in feed imports. Ideally, this should take some much-needed pressure out of animal feed costs.

However the NFU fears the long-awaited change may not have much impact on the ground with farmers facing rising feed costs.

NFU Director of Policy Martin Haworth said: ?The change only applies to the presence of material for which EU import licences have been applied, but not yet approved. Increasingly companies are simply not bothering to apply for licences in the EU - particularly for maize - since the process is long and costly and the major markets are in Asia not Europe.

?The new rules also only apply to imports destined for feed not food when you can?t always tell the final destination of maize. Finally, the GM material has to be one that has not been identified by the European Food Safety Authority as being susceptible to having adverse effects. We do not know how this will work, but there is a clear potential here for more delays and bottle-necks.

?As GM acreages increase globally, and new varieties come onto the market, there needs to be a pragmatic and workable system in place to deal with the traces of unintended GM material found in globally-traded bulk commodities such as soybeans and maize.

?Unless we find an effective solution to this issue we risk making the whole of the European livestock industry uncompetitive over time.?



                                  PART 6

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   UNAUTHORISED GM CROPS COULD BE ALLOWED IN BRITISH FOOD CHAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME AFTER EU VOTE

SOURCE:  The Daily Telegraph, UK

AUTHOR:  Louise Gray

URL:     http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8341394/Unauthorised-GM-crops-could-be-allowed-in-British-food-chain-for-the-first-time-after-EU-vote.html

DATE:    22.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Genetically modified crops that have not been approved in Europe could be allowed into the British food chain for the first time after a vote in Brussels decided to let in contaminated shipments of animal feed. Previously the EU had a ?zero tolerance? policy to unauthorised GM. Shipments found to contain any trace of GM that was not yet approved in Europe were turned back at the port."

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UNAUTHORISED GM CROPS COULD BE ALLOWED IN BRITISH FOOD CHAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME AFTER EU VOTE

Genetically modified (GM) crops that have not been approved in Europe could be allowed into the British food chain for the first time after a vote in Brussels decided to let in contaminated shipments of animal feed.

Previously the EU had a ?zero tolerance? policy to unauthorised GM. Shipments found to contain any trace of GM that was not yet approved in Europe were turned back at the port.

However in a significant victory for the GM lobby member states voted to allow imports containing up to 0.1 per cent of unauthorised seed.

Europe imported 33 million tonnes of soy last year, mostly approved GM varieties for animal feed.

If the vote is allowed through by the European Parliament and Council, which is likely, those shipments could contain GM seeds that are authorised in a ?third country? but may not even have been tested in Europe.

Dr Helen Wallace of Genewatch said some of the unauthorised seeds have been bred to have certain traits for industry that may be inappropriate in the food chain.

?We think it is a major concern because it is a foot in the door to allow unauthorised products into the food chain,? she said. ?That could include crops modified to produce industrial chemicals or pharmaceuticals or for biofuels.?

A Daily Telegraph investigation found that every supermarket in the UK stocks dairy and meat products from animals fed GM soy.

Farmers have argued that Europe was in danger of ?going hungry? because of the difficulty in keeping shipments clean of any unauthorised GM. They pointed out that countries like the US and Brazil now have so many GM seeds that have not yet been approved in Europe it is impossible to keep shipments free of any unauthorised seeds. They insist unauthorised GM is safe because it has been approved in another country.

But Mute Schimpf, Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner, said most shipments are clean of unauthorised GM and there is no threat to food security from zero tolerance.Only 0.2 per cent of all EU soya imports have ever been turned back because of contamination and these all came from the US.

She said the vote was a result of lobbying by the biotechnology industry and the US to try and force Europe to accept more GM and puts food safety in danger.

?There is absolutely no reason to allow contaminated food to be fed to animals in Europe. Weakening safety rules to appease the animal feed industry compromises human and environmental safety,? she said. ?It is disappointing that a number of member states preferred to listen to the scare-mongering from industry rather than the concerns and wishes of their citizens,? she said.

The vote comes as new figures reveal that almost 150 million hectares of land was planted with GM crops last year, 10 per cent more than last year.

Most GM is soy, cotton, oilseed rape and maize designed to be herbicide or insect resistant but other plants are being developed for commercial used including tomatoes, broccoli and bananas.

The annual industry report found 29 countries are now growing GM, up from 25 last year after Pakistan, Burma and Sweden planted crops fo the first time and Germany resumed planting of GM. The US is still the biggest grower of GM, while Brazil is second and the fastest growing sector.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), that represents the biotech industry, said developing countries grew 48 percent of the total crop of GM, covering 10 per cent of arable land.

Clive James, Chairman of ISAAA, said 90 per cent of the 15.4 million farmers growing GM are small scale poor farmers, mostly in India and China.

?Biotech crops have helped reduce carbon emissions and save land, while helping alleviate poverty and for some of the poorest people in the world,? he said.

However Pete Riley of GM Freeze said most GM is on massive commercial farms in South and North America.

He pointed out that far less GM is being grown in Europe and Asia, where opposition remains strong.

?Opposition to GM crops remains strong across the world and people and farmers are increasingly questioning why governments are allowing the seed industry to become dominated by a handful of companies that use intellectual property laws to claim monopoly rights and to deny farmers and other plant breeders full access the world?s plant genetic resources for future plant breeding. Common sense says that this makes no senses in a world where millions are starving or undernourished?.