EU: Agri committee votes against GM imports 'opt-out' proposal

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

EU: Agri committee votes against GM imports 'opt-out' proposal

Related tags: Eu feed manufacturers, European union

The EU parliament’s agriculture committee today rejected the Commission's draft law aiming to give countries the power to restrict or prohibit the use of EU-approved GM food or feed.

The MEPs said the move was based on fears that arbitrary national bans could distort competition on the EU's single market and jeopardize the EU’s livestock sector which is heavily dependent on imports of GM feed.

The agriculture committee's opinion was adopted by 28 votes in favor to eight against, with six abstentions.

"The Commission's proposal must be rejected … We have not been building the EU's single market to let arbitrary political decisions distort it completely,"​ said European People’s Party representative, Albert Dess.

Next steps

The Environmental Committee (ENVI) is due to officially vote on the GM import proposal on the 12-13 October 2015. In July, MEPs in that committee made it clear​ they are not in favor of the proposed ‘opt-out’ legislation.

It will then be put to a whole Parliament vote during the plenary session in Strasbourg on 26-29 October.

Feed sector calls for scrapping of GM proposal

Today also saw EU feed manufacturers’ federation, FEFAC, urge the EU Council to ensure the GM draft law is rebuffed. It has been highly critical​ of the proposal since it was first adopted by the College of Commissioners back in April.

The trade group said the law, if passed, would pose a severe threat to EU livestock producers as a ban on the use of GM feed materials in a member state would cut off its market access to competitive feed supplies.

In addition, FEFAC called for the harmonization of EU sanitary and trade standards related to feed production and supply to ensure a level playing field for both feed and livestock producers and secure strategic raw material sources.

“FEFAC recommends the establishment of a dedicated Council working group to analyze key market and regulatory pressures that impair the feed industry’s capacity to alleviate the cost burden on livestock farmers​,” said the body.

Raw material supplies

Moreover, EU farm ministers, said FEFAC, need to increase the competitiveness of EU protein production, both for existing protein sources such as oilseed meals and alternative ones like algae, microbial protein and insects.

The trade group also rowed in behind EU farming lobbyists, COPA-COGECA, regarding what it termed the “drastic market situation for EU livestock products”​ and it asked the Farm Council to consider immediate and targeted action to relieve market pressure on livestock producers.

COPA-COGECA is organizing a mass demonstration of farmers outside the extraordinary meeting of EU agriculture ministers in Brussels on Monday next — 7 September — to demand action.

The group said EU pig meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable and beef markets have been hit by Russian export restrictions with prices below production costs in many countries and farm incomes low, forcing some out of business. 

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