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Biotech in EU food 'inevitable'.

Even a "zero-tolerance" approach cannot safeguard European consumers against exposure to unauthorized genetically engineered crops, according to new studies.

The EU's zero-tolerance policy on non-approved biotech crops is not only ineffective in keeping out unauthorized products, but could also devastate the European livestock sector by reducing the availability of high-protein feed and driving up costs for producers and consumers, the studies claim.

One of the studies was commissioned by the Dutch government and looks at the economic consequences of the EU's current biotech policy. In particular, it predicts increasing problems in sourcing feed for the European livestock sector.

That report states that the EU's zero-tolerance approach to bioengineered products which have not been authorized for cultivation or for import cannot always be effective, given that 'contamination' can occur during harvesting, transport or processing.

Problems have already arisen--and will only be exacerbated--because of differing biotech policies between the EU and its major trading partners such as the US. Major problems are also outlined in terms of how to continue sourcing biotech -free animal feed, with high-protein options such as soybeans likely to become rarer and more difficult to import en masse.

The EU imports about 77 percent of its protein feed, making its livestock sector highly vulnerable to changes in price and availability as conventional soybeans and corn occupy a shrinking portion of overall global production.

In 2007, biotech soybeans as a percentage of the global area of soya reached 64 percent, which correspondingly shrank availability of conventional soybean supplies.

Meanwhile, another study commissioned by the European Feed Manufacturers' Association, Coceral (EU grain traders) and UECBV (EU livestock traders), attributes nearly a fifth of EU feed and livestock industry costs to the zero-tolerance policy on bioengineered crops.

Both reports conclude that the EU is heading towards increased reliance on imports of meat fed with the biotech feed which is banned in Europe.
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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Date:Nov 3, 2008
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