German Farm Group Sees EU Relaxing GMO Import Rule

Germany’s association of farming co-operatives said it was optimistic the European Union will relax its ban on unapproved imports of tiny traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Without any such measure, EU imports of soybeans and soymeal could be disrupted once again in autumn 2010, said Manfred Nuessel, president of co-operatives association DRV.

Millions of tonnes of EU soy imports were delayed in autumn 2009 as some shipments contained tiny traces of GMO grains not yet approved for EU import.

This mostly involved dust from ships and trucks which had previously carried consignments of GMO crops the EU had not yet approved. The EU has indicated it will examine the issue in coming weeks.

Canadian flax imports into the EU are also at a standstill due to discovery of trace amounts of a GMO variety.

The DRV and other EU animal feed importers are calling on Brussels to introduce a small GMO tolerance level to prevent entire grain shipments being stopped if they contain traces of non-approved GMOs.

The DRV is pressing for a 0.5 per cent GMO tolerance level, Nuessel said.

The DRV was optimistic the EU Commission would propose a new rule allowing minor content levels of GMOs in April, which could permit any new regulation to come into force in autumn 2010.

“The zero-tolerance rule is causing higher costs for us because it is immensely difficult to separate non-approved GMOs in the U. S. and South America,” Nuessel said. “Ships have to undergo extra cleaning but you cannot clean every truck in South America used to carry imports.”

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