BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Three E.U.-based agencies have joined the call for the E.U. Commission to authorize eight genetically modified (GM) products 

COCERAL, which represents the trade in cereals, rice, feedstuffs, oilseeds, olive oil, oils and fats and agrosupply; FEDIOL, the federation representing the European Vegetable Oil and Proteinmeal Industry in Europe; and the European Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) said on Aug. 29 that the ongoing delay threatens the E.U.’s supply of protein-rich products.

The eight GM products have been deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) and have reached the final stage of the risk management process. The decisions for the related E.U. import authorizations lay in the hands of the E.U. Commission. Some of them have been waiting since the end of 2013.

The E.U. depends for 75% of its needs for protein-rich ingredients for feeding purpose on the global world markets. Europe consumes yearly around 414 million tonnes of cereal grains, oilseed and derived products, catering for food, feed and industrial needs: 339 million tonnes of these agricultural products are produced in the E.U. and 75 million tonnes are imported from third countries.

In light of the E.U. dependency on imported agricultural products and vegetable proteins, Paul Della Tolla, COCERAL’s president, said any further delay by the commission would result in an unavoidably suicidal situation for Europe which will lead to important disruptions to trade as well as serious legal uncertainty. 

“As several of these GM products are currently being grown and harvested in the key exporting countries to the E.U., it won't take long before their unavoidable presence starts being detected in traditional commercial channels, regardless of whether GM or non-GM agricultural products are traded,” he said.

Kevin Brassington, president of FEDIOL, said without a guaranteed supply of imported soybeans from traders to oilseeds processors, approximately 3 million tonnes of E.U.-produced vegetable oils and 10 million tonnes of protein-rich meal, GM and non-GM alike, would no longer reach food and feed manufacturers and their customers.

“The urgent need for the E.U. Commission to provide legal certainty for feed business operators regarding market access to vital raw materials supplies. E.U. feed manufactures and livestock producers rely on imports of more than 30 million tonnes of protein-rich feed materials annually, for which there is no viable alternative available on the European feed market,” said Ruud Tijssens, FEFAC president. “Any further delay in the GM import approval process could erode further the EU livestock sector’s competitiveness.”