Monday, November 17, 2008

EU’s GM aversion costs €2.5 billion a year

The European livestock sector is losing €2.5bn a year thanks to EU time-wasting on authorising GM feeds and a zero-tolerance policy on new GM varieties, according to a report by agricultural trade researchers.

While feed prices have been hit by poor harvests and world-wide shortages, EU import bans on GM maize have pushed up prices further, the report by organisations including the Agricultural Industries Confederation says.

An estimated 15% of losses in the sector are caused by EU delays, it adds.

The researchers, who have sent their report to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso, said policy needed to change before the livestock industry was "destroyed" due to lack of feeds.

AIC said the situation would get worse unless EU policy towards GMs was altered.

With new GM varieties due to be commercialised in 2009, increased use of GM crops in North America and Brazil and GM residues contaminating non-GM crops, finding importers who could provide non-GM soya feeds would become increasingly difficult, AIC said.

The EU is 78% dependent on imported animal proteins like soya and there are few domestic alternatives, it added.

by Lucy Busuttil for Farmers Weekly Interactive

Comments from malaysia4biotech:
It is amusing that EU bans GM feed but imports livestock products of animals fed with GM feed. It is clear that the denial of GM products in the EU is nothing more than a trade barrier. This double standard completely lacks science-based decisions. EU is already facing pressure from their farming communities to allow GM feed to enter the country. With the current global shortage of grains, the government will have a big problem persuading consumers that GMOs are safe, when they have denied this in the past.
Many developing countries are influenced by the positions taken by EU, which is heavily influenced by Green NGOs.

Norman Borloug, Father of Green Revolution says this:
"Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things."

When NGOs say we need to farm sustainably, they mean the farmers... not them. These NGOs should try to get themselves dirty in the soilbeds, sweating and back-breaking, with a fork and spade. Imagine being a woman trying to feed five kids, lost her husband to HIV, working from dawn to sunset on arid land, without irrigation, fresh water, fertilisers and quality seeds. Who deprives them of technology and quality life?
By Mahaletchumy Arujanan

1 comment:

xenobiologista said...

Hi, interesting blog. I'm a Malaysian student doing my MS in biomedical sciences at a large US public university.

Anyway, if European farmers themselves are becoming more interested in GM crops, why aren't the politicians listening to the farmers?

I just finished reading Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and the first section on industrial agriculture is pretty scary. Almost all of mainstream agriculture and food production in the US is built on a huge monoculture of corn, converting it into all sorts of food products, and stuffing it into animals like cows that aren't designed to handle it. It's a great illustration of how crappy government policies can seduce farmers away from better ways of producing food and mess up a nation's environment and health.

It's understandable that the Europeans are shying away from this industrial model of agriculture, but at the same time the politicians should listen to their own experts - farmers and scientists, not paranoid urban-dwellers.

Personally I think the biggest danger of GM crops is indirect - that huge corporations will encourage monocultures of their patented expensive crops, and then some bug or fungus that's still resistant will come along and wipe them out. Genetic engineering should be embraced but it should also go along with traditional breeding and maintenance of "heirloom" strains to preserve genetic diversity. E.g. plants and animals that grow particularly well in a certain climate due to having been cultivated/reared there for centuries.