Linked In
News In
Linked In

You are viewing 1 of your 2 complimentary articles.

Register now to receive full access.

Already registered?

Login | Join us now

Opinion: Europe needs to get a grip over GM

Twitter Linkedin

Europe's refusal to get to grips with genetically modified foods is beginning to matter.

The commission's refusal to address the technology head on was not such an issue while it remained a laboratory fantasy.

But, like it or not, GM is here to stay, and is going pretty much global.

That does not make it right. But it does meant that Brussels needs something better than its historic approach to GM, which amounts to trying to tether it with red tape.

Both sides happy

It is easy to see why the commission might want to continue muddling on.

That gives the pro-GM lobby hope. For example, the European Food Safety Authority in April deemed MON88017, a Monsanto corn loaded with insect and herbicide resistant traits, as safe for human consumption and the environment.

It satisfies the anti-GM protestors too by imposing a de facto ban on most crops while the plodding approval process continues.

The EFSA's approval of MON88017, for instance, does not mean fit-for-planting status - that's for commission bigwigs to decide. And the seed has taken four years to get even this far.

Shippers' dilemma

But the technology is now too big to be hidden in Brussels in-trays, as the fallout from its zero-tolerance approach to GM contamination shows.

While that policy may have passed muster while growing GM crops was a minority, American sport, the crops are now also big in the rest of the Americas. And in Canada, China and India. Australia is growing its first GM cotton, with canola under trials.

That poses huge problems for getting GM-free crops to Europe. Even if shippers could guarantee their vessels GM-free, the potential for contamination of crops – be it through pollen carry or contractors' promiscuous combines – are legion.

Indeed, shippers have realised as much. That's why their reaction to the rejection of US soybean cargoes to Germany, after traces of MON88017 were found, has been in many cases a self-imposed blockade.

To transport further US shipments to Europe is to risk being left holding the beans.

Price risk

If Brussels wants a ban on GM, so be it. But it should take public will, rather than political stealth, to impose such a significant veto.

Rejecting the world's best hope of bumping up crop yields, and keeping food cheap, would come at a cost in consumer prices. Europe's citizens deserve a say in whether they want to pay it.

By Mike Verdin

Twitter Linkedin
Related Stories

Hedge funds turn net bullish on ags - ahead of price drop to historic low

Speculators are wrong-footed in soymeal, in which they hike bullish bets just before a price tumble. But they fare better in cotton and cocoa

December makes poor stab of bringing festive cheer to ag bulls

This might have been the month when grain prices began a "breakout", higher. Instead, ag prices are hitting their lowest in at least 26 years

Morning markets: Wheat futures set fresh contract low

... dragging on the corn market, amid selling ahead of a key US report. The Argentine weather outlook depresses soybean prices

Soft commodities better bets than grains for 2018, says Commerzbank

Indeed, investors are overrating prospects for corn and wheat futures. But cocoa futures have scope for gains, and coffee could see a "price surge"
Home | About | RSS | Commodities | Companies | Markets | Legal disclaimer | Privacy policy | Contact

© 2017 and Agrimoney are trademarks of Agrimoney Ltd
Agrimoney is part of the Briefing Media group
Agrimoney Ltd is registered in England & Wales. Registered number: 09239069