The European Commission this week proposed amending its approvals process for biotechnology traits to allow individual member states to opt out of the import of products containing those traits, even if the traits have been fully approved by EU food safety officials.
The American Soybean Association dismissed the European Commission's decision as bad for the EU's own livestock producers and feed industries and bad for consumers who could end up paying more for meat.
"The EU feed and livestock industries have reacted very negatively to the EU Commission's action, warning that it would make livestock production uncompetitive and disrupt trade into and within the EU market," said ASA Vice President Richard Wilkins. "Currently, the EU feed industry imports 75% of the soymeal it requires for livestock uses."
Wilkins also expressed strong concerns about the compatibility of the Commission's decision with the EU's existing international trade obligations as well as the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations between the United States and EU.
The World Trade Organization has ruled against the EU for not operating a timely and science-based approval process, Wilkins said, and the Commission's decision could create new WTO violations by allowing member states to restrict these imports based on political or popular choice.
"It also runs completely contrary to the very spirit of eliminating barriers to US-EU trade under the TTIP. We believe this proposal, if finalized, would negatively impact U.S. soy trade with the EU," Wilkins said.
"Instead of standing with science, with modern agriculture, and with the realities of the global economy, the EU has divided itself with this proposal between those member states that choose to recognize the promise and potential of biotechnology to provide for their citizens, and those that do not," he said.
The proposal now must be adopted by the 28 EU member states and the EU parliament through the co-decision process. A timeline for that has not been set.