Soy imports from the US have been halted since June, after traces of unauthorized GM maize were found in soy consignments, and more than 200,000 tonnes of US soy were denied entry to the EU, raising serious worries for the meat sector.
This latest maize approval follows that of three other GM maize varieties: Monsanto’s MON 88017 and MON 89034, and Pioneer’s 59122x. However, approval for Syngenta’s MIR 604 was held up when the Commission failed to reach agreement on its authorisation during the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in October. This meant it had to be passed to the Council, before being passed back to the Commission for adoption by default, due to the lack of a majority decision.
The insect-resistant maize was the subject of a positive opinion from the European Food Safety Authority in July, which said that its intended uses in food and feed, import and processing – but not cultivation – would be unlikely to have any adverse effect on human or animal health or on the environment. But the approvals process is notoriously slow, due to starkly divided opinions on GM crops among member states.
Many farmers are hoping that its authorization could help open the way for imports of soy products that have been at the centre of the debate over the EU’s zero tolerance stance on imports of unauthorized GM crops.
The situation has raised serious concerns about farmers’ ability to find affordable soy, particularly for feed use.
According to the European Feed Manufacturers Association, FEFAC: “Whatever precautions are taken, it is not possible to guarantee the absence of minute levels of foreign materials, other than by ceasing the trade altogether.”
The EU is heavily reliant on the US, Brazil and Argentina for the soybeans that it uses for animal feed.