EU sticks to Zero Tolerance

No tolerance values for agricultural imports of non-approved genetically modified crops will be introduced in the EU. This past spring the EU Commission had announced a relaxation of the Zero Tolerance regulation in order to counteract shortages in the deliveries of animal feed.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Health Commissioner
Androulla Vassiliou, European Health Commissioner
A spokesperson for EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou stated to the Dow Jones News Service that in the EU, in addition to maize and soybeans, other GM crop would be readily approved.

Back in June, the EU Commission declared that it would solve the problem of tracking non-approved GM crops quickly and “in a technical way”. At that time, there was zero tolerance for GM crops not approved in the EU: any proof of such a GM crop in a delivery with agricultural raw materials led to these not being marketable and hence not allowed to be imported into the EU.

New types of GM crops are being cultivated in the US with more planned in future, that are not allowed in the EU. A similar development can be seen in Argentina and Brazil. It is practically impossible to organise the cultivation of GM crops and their processing in such a way as to rule out even the slightest trace of them coming into contact with other agricultural products. Requirement of proof of non-contamination could lead to delivery shortages, especially with animal feed.

In the past few months, the import of more types of GM crops has been allowed into the EU, namely GA21 maize, 59122 maize (Herculex) and A2704-12 soybeans (Liberty Link). EU approval is still pending for RoundupReady2 soybeans, which will be cultivated on a large-scale basis in the US starting in 2009. At the end of September, the recommendation for approval by the EU Commission had not been granted by the qualified majority of Member States.

The EU annually imports around 40 million tons of soybeans and soy by-products from Argentina, Brazil and the US.