Non GM soya is still available; but for how long?
More than 80% of the total soybean meal use - one of the biggest ingredients in the EU livestock and poultry feed - by EU member states is estimated to be GM. And the impression that there is little non-GM soya left has been widely fostered. But some industry analysts have questioned the accuracy and motivation behind these predictions.
Agra CEAS, a consultancy firm reported to the European Commission that “reductions in the availability of non GM supply” and worries about “securing an all year round supply of feed for livestock” given the “increase in the number of countries growing GM crops” and suggested that maintaining a segregated non-GM supply chain is becoming increasingly difficult, with higher costs being passed on to the consumer.
Non GM soya tonnage is growing
In contrast, the non-GM certification body Cert ID/Pro Terra’s 2011 figures for volumes of its certified non GM soya showed that the non-GM sector is not shrinking, but expanding. In 2011, Cert ID certified 7.7 million metric tons of soya as non-GM: An increase from 7.6 million tons in 2010 and 7.1 million tons in 2009.
Augusto Freire, managing director of Cert ID Brazil, said: “Our figures for 2011 confirm that Europe’s certified non-GM soya market, now in its twelfth year, is continuing to grow steadily.”
Other GM feed ingredients are being pushed
However, there is little doubt that industry pressure to squeeze out the GM free supply chain is increasing and widening. Soya is only one ingredient of livestock feed. Corn (maize) gluten feed and dried distillers grains (DDG) are others which the GM industry would like to monopolise.
EU maize consumption averages between 60 and 63 million metric tons annually, mainly supplied by member states. Imports only average between 3,000 and 6,000 metric tons. Currently GM maize consumption in the EU is estimated to be lower than 25% of the total.
However, EU imports of DDGs doubled in the first ten months of the marketing year 2010/11. The United States is the leading supplier with 88% market share. The GM industry wants to increase these figures, and sees great potential for boosting DDG exports to France in particular.
In addition, temporary and full authorisations granted under the EU’s GM food and feed regulation mean that, as of March 2012, there are 47 GMOs with a possible use in livestock feed in the EU - 26 varieties of maize, eight varieties of cotton, six varieties of soya bean, three varieties of oilseed rape, one each of potato and sugar beet, and two micro-organisms.
All of these GM varieties have been authorised for import and processing. Only three of them - the starch potato and two of the maize varieties - have been licensed for cultivation, although one of the maize varieties cannot be grown in the EU because it has still to be included in the common catalogue of approved seed varieties.
The GM industry is being given a massive boost by the EU’s abandonment of the consumer’s right to know about the ingredients in their food. At present there is no requirement to label products from animals fed on GM feed. This illogical and indefensible ruling has created a huge gap in the EU’s consumer protection system and undermines the survival of the non –GM feed supply chain.
Non GM livestock products in the UK
Research by GM Freeze has found that supermarkets other than Morrisons are maintaining some sort of non-GM policy for livestock feed in their own label products. Marks and Spencer leads the way in providing meat, eggs and milk from animals reared on a non-GM diet. Sainsburys also has a wide ranging policy with the Coop, Tesco and Waitrose following suit in varying degrees.
All supermarkets point out that their organic ranges are GM free. But should people have to buy organic in order to choose non-GM livestock products? Unless the EU starts to meet its responsibilities to Europe’s consumers this might become the case in the future.
Can the non-GM supply chain survive?
GM Freeze has a number of suggestions as to how citizens can take action to ensure that supermarkets carry non GM fed animal products. These are found at;
However, to ensure proper labelling of products from livestock fed GM ingredients the EU Commission needs to be taken to task. To make your voice heard you could write to:
DG Sanco, European Commission
Directorate-General Health & Consumers
B - 1049 Brussels, Belgium
FSA, Food Standards Agency (UK Headquarters)
Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London WC2B 6NH
Your MP and MEP at http://www.writetothem.com