1. GM industry losing momentum?
2. The Biotech Roadblock for Sellers - Agweb
Quote of the week: 'But Phillips worries about the impact of opponents of genetically engineered products: "There are forces out there that may make this a vestige, an antique." '
1. GM industry losing momentum?
As disagreement between the EU and the USA over genetically modified (GM) food continues to undermine scientific relations, statistics show that companies are investing less in research than five years ago.
Commentators are arguing that the GM food bubble may have now burst, resulting in a reduction in research investment, static profits, and a tightening up in labelling and import laws. The EU proposed new legislation on 25 July requiring all food containing GMOs to be traceable from the farm to the supermarket.
This proposal is the first time that the EU has sought to introduce specific regulations on GM animal feed and to extend labelling laws to all food and feed, regardless of whether there is GM DNA or protein in the final product.
The USA is lobbying European governments to change the proposed legislation as they believe it would cost US companies $4 billion each year. Some 70 per cent of the world's GM crops are grown in the USA, where no labelling for such foods is required. Modified grains are also often mixed with conventional crops during shipping. An EU spokesperson has however argued that the proposed legislation is 'absolutely necessary to foster consumer confidence' and trade in biotech foods.
Another reason for the growing disinterest in GM foods is that the promised new generation of crops carrying health benefits for those who eat them has so far failed to materialise.
[via Organic Newsline, Vol 2 , Issue 37, Sept 27 2001 - original source not identified]
The Biotech Roadblock for Sellers
From the pages of the September 2001 edition of Farm Journal magazine.
By Barbara Fairchild
While U.S. farmers are rapidly expanding their acres devoted to genetically modified (GM) crops, consumers around the world are saying, "Wait a minute." Despite extensive testing in the U.S., they're not convinced it's safe to consume food with genetically modified ingredients.
Europeans have been especially belligerent about keeping GM products off their grocery shelves. Their mantra is the Precautionary Principle, which says no human technology should be used for widespread human consumption unless full scientific certainty exists that it will not cause human or environmental harm.
As a result, corn exports to the European Union (EU) faded in 1998. "The EU approval system for genetically modified crops is unworkable," says Susan Keith, senior director of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association.
That system is set to get worse.
In July, the European Commission adopted draft legislation that, if approved by member states of the EU, would establish stringent traceability and labeling rules that could be in force by 2003 for GM food and feed products.
Of special significance is the proposal to label GM feed. Currently no labeling requirements are in place for feed produced from genetically modified organisms (GMO). U.S. corn gluten exports to the EU are valued at $600 million annually.
"Provisions that would require testing of each biotechnical event in each shipment are not workable," Keith says. "The proposed law says they will have traceability, but I don't see how they can without trade disruption."
Grain system havoc.
"The U.S commonly blends biotech and conventional varieties," says Howard Cott, a contributor to a recent General Accounting Office (GAO) international trade study. "Requiring segregation will raise handling costs." There is a worldwide trend to impose labeling rules, but only the EU is considering traceability, Cott says.
The U.S. has complained formally about the proposed regulations and is working to prevent some of them from being formulated. The U.S. isn't alone in its objections, Cott says. "Not only is there tension between the U.S. and the EU, there is tension within the EU that already has slowed the regulatory process." The proposals for GMO labeling and traceability go to the European Council of Ministries and Parliament for final approval and acceptance.
While the adoption process could take as long as two years, it could be much quicker, says Maeve O'Beirne, director of press and public affairs for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Consumer Affairs Section of the European Commission Delegation. "GMOs are of concern in Europe. The regulations are a popular option."
The proposed labeling regulations include food ingredients such as highly refined soy and corn oil, which have not required a GMO label. (The accidental presence of GM material in food up to 1% will continue to be exempted from labeling.) This regulation and requiring the labeling of feed produced from a GMO would likely affect soybean exports, which have not experienced trade disruptions.
Most soy exported to the EU is used for animal feed, and the Roundup Ready variety produced in the U.S. has been approved in the EU. However, the proposed regulations may threaten future soybean exports, warns the GAO report.
Although the EU accounts for only a portion of U.S. ag exports, other countries also have concerns.
Genetically modified wheat is not yet available for commercial production, but is set to be released in 2003-05. Earlier this year, a delegation from the U.S. wheat industry traveled to Japan to visit with members of that country's milling industry. The Japanese wheat millers wasted no words telling the delegation they would not buy GM wheat.