Europe's biotech industry accused of modifying the truth

4 May 2010

New report shows no problem with EU GMO laws

Brussels, 4 May 2010 – Industry claims that Europe’s laws on genetically modified crops harm the animal feed industry are false, shows new research today.

Analysis of official EU data by Friends of the Earth Europe proves that current laws function well. Only minute amounts of trade in animal feeds were directly disrupted by contamination incidents in the last five years. Europe’s legal safeguards cannot be blamed for any problems in the farming sector.

Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “There is not a shred of evidence to support the case that Europe should weaken its GMO safety laws. Claims from the biotech and feed industries that farmers can’t feed or would even have to slaughter their animals are simply not true. Our research shows that industry is trying to scare-monger politicians to change the law.”

The biotech and feed industries are lobbying for the EU to allow contamination of foods and feeds by genetically modified (GM) crops not approved for sale in Europe. Europe only allows imports of GM foods or feeds that have been approved and refuses any imports which are contaminated by unapproved GMOs – a so-called ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

The industry claims that EU GMO rules are causing a serious crisis and that farmers might have to slaughter animals rather than let them starve. This claim is based on the argument that international trade is severely disrupted when shipments of feed are rejected if they contain GM feeds not approved for sale in Europe. As a result of this misinformation, the European Commission is preparing to weaken the zero tolerance rule to allow traces of contamination of non-approved GM feeds.

The Friends of the Earth Europe analysis concludes that:
- The quantities of contaminated animal feed were so low that it cannot be argued that the EU zero tolerance policy caused significant disruption. Of all soy imports used as animal feed (for livestock and pets) a maximum of 0.2 percent were rejected because they contained EU non-approved GMOs.
- In contrast to claims made by industry, there is no evidence that soy imports from the USA were blocked from June 2009.
- Contamination incidents for feed with EU non-approved GMOs have one main origin: the USA. The USA was responsible for about 90 percent of all contaminations from 2004 till end of June 2009.
- The two other main producers of GM soy, Brazil and Argentina, have – according to EU data – caused not one single contamination case.
- The USA has its own zero tolerance policy in force. US authorities do not accept non-approved GMOs.

Adrian Bebb continued: “Europe’s laws on genetically modified foods are there for a reason - to protect the public and the environment. Dropping the zero tolerance policy to appease the industry lobby is unnecessary and would mean a flood of unapproved and unlabelled GMOs on the European market. The right of the public to say no to GM foods and feeds must be kept.”

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Notes

The report ‘No link between animal feed crisis and EU zero tolerance policy’ can be downloaded here.