How do EU policies on biotech crops impact trade and development?

07.03.2013

SPECIAL EVENT REPORT:

How do EU Policies on Biotech Crops Impact Trade and Development

Brussels, 7 March, 2013 – Today, at an event organised by EuropaBio in Brussels, a group of high-level stakeholders from the development, trade, diplomatic and science communities shared insights on the global impacts of EU’s policies on genetically-modified (GM) crops. During two panel discussions on “Global food security and the role of biotech crops” and “The impact of EU policies on global trade in agricultural commodities”, speakers from Asia, the Americas and Europe gave their perspective on the challenges to ensure food supply for all in a changing environment, and their views on what role GM technology can play in helping farmers cope with agronomic and climatic stresses.

Agricultural biotechnology is the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of agriculture. GM crops are grown by more than 17 million farmers around the world, 90% of them being smallholder farmers in developing countries, on 170.3 million hectares of land. In 2012, the areas planted with GM crops in emerging and developing countries exceed those of industrialized countries.

The EU is today the world’s biggest net importer of agricultural commodities. The EU’s imports of protein commodities are estimated to total upwards of 60 kg per EU citizen per year (500 million), the majority of which are GM.  However, the EU authorization system for GM products does not operate efficiently, causing trade problems directly linked to the difference of pace for import approvals between the EU and exporting countries. The governments of the main exporting countries, such as Brazil, Argentina and the US, operate more efficient authorisation systems, and they have decided to accelerate further. By comparison, while the EU still takes close to 3.7 years on average for an import approval, approvals in Brazil currently take just over 2 years, and the U.S. is aiming for 1.5 years. If the current rate of authorisation continues, the backlog of pending products will increase to 106 by 2020, which will have serious economic consequences for European food and feed producers reliant upon imported GM products.

The industry is looking forward to a collaborative and constructive approach to solve pending issues related to the GM approval system, in accordance to EU law, good governance, predictability and workability as well as science-based decision-making. “With the increased adoption of GM crops in major exporting countries, it is crucial that the EU authorisation process is efficiently implemented in order to avoid trade disruptions that would not only mean losses for economic operators but would also affect European consumers”, declared  Nathalie Moll, EuropaBio’s Secretary General. She added, “We have a responsibility in the EU toward the developing world. Our go-slow approach in the EU is hampering adoption of GM crops that could protect yields and help increase farmers’ income”.

-ENDS-

Programme

Additional Resources:

·         Minister’s Communiqué: ‘Responsible investment in the food and agriculture sectors - Key factor for food security and rural development’, Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, January 2013

For further information, please contact:

 

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas

Director, Green Biotechnology Europe, EuropaBio

Tel: +32 2 739 11 85

Mobile: +32 473 890 359

Email: c.dmsarvaas@europabio.org

 

Nilsy Desaint

Communications Manager, Green Biotechnology Europe, EuropaBio

Tel: +32 2 739 11 62

Mobile: +32 473 334 875

Email: n.desaint@europabio.org

 

About EuropaBio:

EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, bringing together bioscience companies from all fields of research and development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of biotechnology products. It has 56 corporate members, 14 associate members and Bio Regions and 19 National Biotechnology Associations- representing some 1800 small and medium sized enterprises across Europe.

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