Farmer organisations and public researchers ask MEPs and Ministers to reject the proposed changes to EU legislation on GM food and feed

In a letter to MEPs of the Agricultural and Environmental Committee of the European Parliament and to Ministers of Agriculture various FSN participant organisations ask their support to reject the proposal that EU Member States can restrict or prohibit the use of approved GM food and feed on their territory and urge the EU institutions to return to freedom of choice of farmers and to science as the basis of decision making.

 

2 September 2015,

We write to you on behalf of the European agricultural and scientific organisations listed below, who all collaborate in a so called farmers-scientists network. These agricultural organisations support the ability of farmers to choose the types of farming and the crop varieties, including approved genetically modified (GM) varieties, they find best suited to address the increasing and changing challenges in farming. The scientific organisations are composed by public sector scientists active in modern biotechnology for the common good.

We followed your discussions on the European Commission proposal on the possibility for Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of GM food and feed. We share many of the concerns that the great majority of you expressed in the first debates at Council and Parliament level about the far-reaching negative consequences of the proposal for the functioning of the Internal Market and for the competitiveness of the Union’s agricultural sector. We concur that this proposal would distort competition and freedom of choice of farmers in Europe, and that it would have a very negative impact on the livestock sector.  As the EU today is highly dependent on the supply of vegetal proteins from GM sources on the global world markets[1], national bans on the use of GM products would compromise feed supplies for EU livestock farmers in those countries, who would risk severe reduction of their income due to the consequent hike of feed price[2]. Moreover, bans of approved GM products that fulfil the EU’s science-based risk assessment requirements also fuels the deceptive assumption that there must be something wrong with the GM technology, which will impact EU scientific research on plant biotechnology.

Your discussions highlight the increasing need to put in place constructive, pragmatic and coherent policy measures that help EU farmers and researchers to secure the strategic raw material that the EU needs[3]. This is a complex goal that requires long term strategy and political willingness to have a rational, evidence based debate.

We therefore recommend:

  1. to reject the proposal on the possibility for Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of approved GM food and feed on their territory.
  2. to urge the EU institutions to implement the current regulatory systems as it is written and restart the approval of new GM crops for cultivation in order to finally give EU farmers a real choice.
  3. to develop coherent and pragmatic policy measures that help EU farmers and researchers to secure the strategic raw material that the EU needs, based on the principles that a) the future of farming is not a matter of “this or that technology”, but rather in the ability of farmers to combine the best of every technology, b) that in the interest of food security no form of agriculture should be excluded, and c) that responsible policy making should stay away from unfounded blanket bans.

The organisations listed below are at your disposal if you wish any further background information or data regarding the content of this letter.

AgroBiotechRom (ABR, Romania, www.agrobiotechrom.ro)

Liga Asociatiilor Producatorilor Agricoli din Romania (LAPAR, Romania, www.lapar.org)

Asociatia Producatorilor de Porumb din Romania (APPR, Romania, www.apprs.ro)

Federația Națională PRO AGRO (PRO AGRO, Romania, http://www.cnproagro.ro)

Saf agr’iDées (France, www.safagridees.com)

Association Française des Biotechnologies Végétales (AFBV, France, www.biotechnologies-vegetales.com)

Asociación de Productores de Vacuno de Carne (ASOPROVAC, Spain, www.asoprovac.com)

Asociación Nacional de Productores de Ganado Porcino (ANPROGAPOR, Spain)

Asociación Agraria Jóvenes Agricultores (ASAJA, Spain, www.asajanet.com)

FuturAgra (FA, Italy, www.futuragra.it)

InnoPlanta (Germany, www.innoplanta.de)

Wissenschaftlerkreis Grüne Gentechnik (WGG, Germany, www.wgg-ev.de)

Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI, www.prri.net)

Centro de Informação de Biotecnologia (CIB, Portugal, http://cibpt.org)

Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB, Belgium, www.vib.be)

Aposolo Associação Portuguesa de Mobilização de Conservação do Solo (APOSOLO, Portugal, http://www.aposolo.pt)

Associação Nacional de Produtores de Cereais, Oleaginosas e Proteaginosas (Anpoc, Portugal, http://anpoc.pt)

National Farmers Union (NFU, UK, www.nfuonline.com)

National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS, UK, www.nfus.org.uk/)

National Farmers Union Cymru (NFU CYMRU, UK, www.nfu-cymru.org.uk/home)

Ulster Farmers Union (UFU, UK, www.ufuni.org)

[1] The EU depends for 75% of its needs for protein-rich ingredients for feeding purposes on the global world markets, with soybean products accounting for 32 million tons annually, as the most important protein-rich feed ingredient, with no viable alternative.

[2] The availability of non-GM feed on the market is very limited and the price is higher (up to 25 % more) and likely to rise in the event of an increase in their demand due to restriction in the use of GMO products. The impacts of potential bans depend on the product, national markets and production sector. For instance in Spain in case of adoption of ban on GM imported soybean it is estimated that the price of soybean will increase up to 290%. This will be translated into an increase of the price of the feed for the beef sector around 49% more of the current price. For feed in the pork sector the increase is estimated around the 54% more of the current price whilst for feed in the poultry sector the increase is even more high amounting to the 85% of the current price.

[3] In 2014 the EU produced 1.7 million tonnes of soy covering the 7% of the EU domestic demand. Even in the medium term, no more than 10-20% of imports could be replaced. The cultivation of soy in the Danube region is expected to grow in the long term as well as in other areas of the EU such as Italy but the most positive forecast foresees a maximum production around 4 million tons in 2020.

 

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