U. S. shipments of soybeans and soymeal to the European Union are unlikely to return to normal anytime soon, despite the EU expanding which varieties of biotech grain may enter the bloc, industry experts said Nov. 2.
This summer, over 200,000 tonnes of soybean and soymeal were refused entry to EU ports, largely in Spain, because they contained small amounts of GMO corn (maize) varieties not approved in Europe.
Corn and soybean are often shipped in the same containers and using the same ships.
The EU authorized three types of GMO corn Oct. 30 but at least four types of GMO corn have contaminated the soy shipments.
“This is a positive step forward, but is by no means, an open door for biotech-derived commodities,” said Rebecca Fecitt, director of biotech programs for the U. S. Grains Council.
Approval was still needed of the GMO maize type MIR604 from Swiss group Syngenta before normal imports could resume, a spokeswoman for European grain trade association Coceral said.
“However, it is highly unlikely that imports of soybeans and meal from North America will be restarted before the other GMO event, MIR604 is authorized,” the spokeswoman said.
However, some soy shipments to the EU that had been blocked as they contained small traces of the three maize types may now be freed, the Coceral spokeswoman said.
EU approval for GMO imports has been slow because of public concern about their safety. But the EU Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said in September it would seek to find a solution on quicker approvals to stop disruption of other imports.