ASA calls on E.U. to approve 13 biotech traits

by World Grain Staff
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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — In a letter sent on Feb. 13 to European Health & Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and fellow farm groups urged that draft import authorizations for 13 new biotechnology products be considered without further delay by the E.U.’s College of Commissioners.

Import authorizations for 13 new biotechnology products, including soybeans, corn, canola and cotton, are pending, some for well over a year. The ASA and the other groups noted that, while the process for approving new biotech traits had slowed in recent years, it now appears to have come to a “complete stop.”

“All of these products have received positive European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific assessments and have been considered by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health and the Appeals Committee,” wrote the groups. “Timely action by the European Commission will avoid the risk of disruption to the essential supply of feedstocks needed by the E.U.’s livestock, poultry and feed industries, which are more than 70 percent dependent on imported protein.” The last import authorizations for new biotech crops were issued by the European Commission in November 2013.

Noting the existing queue of 57 import files currently in the E.U. system, ASA and its fellow groups reminded Commissioner Andriukaitis of a commitment by E.U. President Jean-Claude Juncker to complete a comprehensive review of the E.U.’s biotech approval procedure in six months, and urged the Commission to ensure that EFSA’s scientific opinions continue to serve as the basis for E.U. approvals.

In the letter, the groups also pushed the commission to respect the E.U.’s obligations under the WTO with regard to timelier biotech deregulation decisions, which were reaffirmed by the WTO in a 2006 dispute settlement decision that found that the E.U. was not complying with its international obligations to consider import authorizations on a timely basis.

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