October 21, 2008
The EU for now will keep its "zero tolerance" policy on allowing the presence of unapproved varieties of GM plants in imported food and animal feed, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said Monday (October 20).
Biotech companies, farmers and feed importers sought a change to the policy because of concerns that imports with trace amounts of unapproved GM plants would be blocked from the EU. The concern is particularly acute for soy: the EU imports about 75 percent of its supply and they form a crucial source of protein in the diet of EU's livestock.
The EU is making progress toward approving new plant varieties for import, said commission health spokeswoman Nina Papdoulaki, citing the clearance of GM corn and soy in the last seven months. The commission also sent a biotech soy - Roundup Ready 2, developed by Monsanto Co. (MON) - to the European Council for approval, putting it on track for final import clearance by next year's harvest in the fall.
"We believe with the authorization of these products, there won't be any need for a (policy change), at least for the time being," Papadoulaki said.
The commission will continue to monitor the situation and may decide that a change to the "zero tolerance" policy is in fact necessary, she added.
The EU approves GM plants at a slower rate than the US. The difference has already stopped corn exports to the EU from the US, because the risk of contaminating normal corn shipments with biotech varieties not approved for import in the EU is too great.