Poland’s agricultural ministry takes harder line against soybean meal imports

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Polish poultry and livestock producers are maintaining pressure on the government to postpone a ban on the use of GM feeds beyond the current January 1, 2019, deadline.

Poland continues to import GM feed ingredients - upwards of 2 million metric tons (MMT) of GM soybean meal from Argentina, Brazil, and the US, most of which is transshipped through Germany and the Netherlands.

However, the country’s 2006 Feed Act technically prohibits the use of GM livestock feed. That piece of legislation includes a ban against the processing, marketing, and feeding of GM feeds and/or derived ingredients, mostly imported soybean meal, for livestock. On November 4, 2016, the Polish parliament voted in favor of the Act, but in practice, policymakers postponed enforcement of the ban until January 1, 2019.

Earlier this year, the former Polish minister of agriculture, Krzysztof Jurgiel, informed stakeholders that the 2006 Feed Act would be amended to allow GM derived feed ingredients continued to be used up until 2024. However, following his resignation in June 2018, and the subsequent appointment of current minister, Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski, Poland’s agricultural ministry has taken a harder line against soybean meal imports, according to a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAIN report​.

The earlier amendment to prolong the use of GM feeds through 2024 has since been withdrawn from consideration by Poland’s parliament, said the market specialists.

However, the USDA publication maintains that commercial stakeholders continue to hope for another extension from policymakers before the end of December 2018.

Awareness about biotechnology reportedly limited in Poland

According to the USDA report, while most Polish scientists and some commercial farmers understand the benefits of advanced agricultural technologies, biotechnology remains a contentious and politicized topic in Poland.

The authors, citing public opinion studies, noted that 70% of Poles oppose the presence of agricultural biotechnology, adding that research also indicates that Polish society’s general awareness about biotechnology remains limited.

There are no commercial GM crops produced in Poland. Several institutions conduct research projects under confined conditions, which consist of basic research and development, plant breeding – in a few cases in conjunction with foreign companies or laboratories - and experiments measuring the impact of GM crops on the environment.

Poland has also approved the ‘opt-out’ EU legislation regarding GM crop cultivation.

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