EU Agriculture Committee rejects biotech opt out proposal

Farm Forum

The European Union (EU) Agriculture Committee rejected the Commission’s proposed biotechnology “opt-out” proposal last week.

The proposal, introduced in by the Commission in April, would give individual Member States the power to restrict or prohibit the use of EU-approved biotech food or feed on their territory, even though such traits have been fully approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

According to a news release from the European Parliament, the Committee fears that “arbitrary national bans could distort competition on the EU’s single market” and harm the Union’s food production sectors which rely heavily on biotech feed imports.”

“The Commission’s approach is completely unrealistic. We have many sectors in the EU that rely to a great extent on imports of GM feed and would not be able to survive if it is banned,” Albert Dess (EPP, DE), draftsman of the opinion said in the news release. “If we allowed this, then all animal food production in the EU would be at stake, which could make us much more dependent on food imports from third countries that do not necessarily respect our high production standards. And we certainly want to avoid this.”

For months, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has urged the EU to withdraw the proposal before it disrupts trade policy and the EU economy and has major short and long term effects on both biotech crop exporters and consumers in the EU. Short-term effects include the loss of direct export markets and logistical and management costs. Long-term effects could include major structural changes both for exporters and the EU livestock industry, and increased shipping costs.

The EU Environment Committee will examine the Agriculture Committee’s vote on Oct. 12-13, before the Parliament as a whole votes on the matter on Oct. 26-29.

ASA continues to work with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in Washington, D.C., and with stakeholders in Europe to urge the Parliament to reject the Commission’s proposal.