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EU Votes to Allow Unapproved GM Crops in Imported Animal Feed

Immediate release (22 Feb 2011)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

Today EU Members States (including the UK) voted in favour of a European Commission proposal to allow low levels of unapproved GM traits in imports of animals feed. [1]

This vote ends the EU’s policy of zero tolerance to unapproved traits in imports and follows heavy lobbying by the animal feed and biotech industries for such a move.

Industry supporters of the EC proposals claimed that the zero tolerance policy was threatening supplies of animal feed from outside the EU despite evidence that very few imports had been affected by the policy. Only 0.2% of all EU soya imports have ever been rejected for these reasons (all of which came from the US), and none at all since June 2009 – 99.8% shipments entered the EU market without any problems. [2]

Recently the USDA approved a GM maize genetically engineered by Syngenta to produce an enzyme that breaks down starch to save energy in bio-ethanol production. This decision was opposed by the North American Millers Association, a body representing 43 companies across the US and Canada [3], who were concerned that tiny traces of the GM maize could harm the quality of their products. Others raised concerns about the possible health effects of the industrial GM crop. [4]

Commenting on today’s vote Pete Riley of Gm Freeze said:

EU Member States have failed to respect the wishes of their citizens – the majority of whom remain opposed to GM crops entering the food chain. Instead they have been swayed by the hyperbole of industry into weakening the GMO regulations.

The presence of GM maize aimed to supply the ethanol industry, not the food industry, raises the very real prospect of contamination of feed with potentially harmful GMOs. Food contamination will surely be inevitable as standards are relaxed.

The UK government’s support of the EC will be remembered if there are problems in the future, and the UK’s food manufacturers, retailers and consumers will know who to blame.



[1] The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) met today.

[2] See No Link Between Animal Feed Crisis and EU Zero Tolerance Policy, Friends of the Earth Europe, May 2010 at

[3] See

[4] See