European feed and livestock industries are “hugely concerned” that there have been no recent soybean shipments from the U.S. and no forward bookings to the in the immediate future, says David Green, a consultant to the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
They appreciate that they are in a “serious position” with the U.S. harvest underway, South American stocks at almost record lows, the Chinese market being very strong and the failure by the EU to resolve its slow biotech approvals process and its zero tolerance issue for EU-unapproved biotech events.
Hog producers running low
Hog producers in Spain and feed compounders in France and the UK say they have only a month’s soy supplies at most.
Some are paying $90 a ton premium just to get soy from any source, Green states. Others are using other protein sources but accept that can only be a stop gap measure. They are enormously frustrated with politicians and officials in various member states who they say simply do not grasp the seriousness of the issue.
Two reports – one from the feed and livestock industry and another from the prestigious Dutch university at Wageningen state that the loss of US shipments could cost the EU up to $5 billion between now and next March, Green says. However, there are some encouraging signs albeit temporary.
Lost in committee
Later this month one of the corn varieties not yet approved in the EU and which has been showing up in trace amounts in US soybean shipments will go before the EU’s Farm Ministers for a vote on authorization.
It is likely there will be a split vote with the dossier unable to muster the required number of votes either to approve or reject EU authorization for import and processing. Under the EU’s rather complex voting and approval system this means that final approval will be left to the European Commission by a default process.
In that event, the Commission will almost certainly issue an EU authorization within one or two weeks in line with the positive assessment of the European Food Safety Authority’s findings earlier this year.
The second EU-unapproved corn event is likely to go before the Farm Ministers for a vote in the middle of November with a similar outcome resulting in the Commission using an authorization. That’s the good news providing there is not an outright vote against at either Farm Ministers meeting.
Authorization of these two biotech corn events will take care of the immediate problem of dust traces being found in soybean shipments, Green says.
The not so good news is that once the ‘phew we got out of that mess’ eases, the problem of the EU’s unworkable biotech laws remains, he says. Already, the EU feed and farming industries and consumers have been hit by unnecessary costs. Without a workable solution soon they’ll get to pay all over again next year, Green says.
Biotech an ongoing problem
He continues that the EU stands virtually alone among countries with functioning biotech regulatory systems “in having its system held hostage to political cowardice.”
Various counties opposed to biotech have hijacked science and proven technology in favor of ideology and ignorance. In doing so they ignore their own scientists and food safety agencies such as EFSA and fail to provide leadership and sheer common sense to their consumers, he argues.
“As more and more biotech soy and corn events come forward both in the U.S. and the rest of the world, the EU’s current policies will once again create chaos. That’s a prediction that’s fairly safe to make,” he adds.