Presss Release: EU red tape threatens British farming- 29/10/15

Leading farming, agricultural and plant science organisations have today issued a stark warning to the Government about the impact of European legislation on GM feed imports.
The report – ‘Going against the grain’ – calls on the Government to reject EU proposals to allow national bans for GM feed and food imports, in order to protect British farmers and consumers from market disruptions and increased prices. Any disruption to imports of GM feed could lead to price hikes in everyday items such as milk, eggs and bacon if farmers and breeders are prevented from accessing their main source of protein feed.

Launched in Parliament today, at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture, the report has been endorsed by five organisations spanning the entire food chain.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Julian Little, abc Chairman, said:

“New laws passed by the EU give Member States the right to introduce national bans on the cultivation of approved GM crops."

“Now, the Commission wants to nationalise bans for GM feed and food imports too. Coupled with the continued backlog in approvals of GM products for import, this will have a devastating impact on the future of UK agriculture."

“Astonishingly, the plans remain on the table even though they have been rejected by the European Parliament. We are calling for the UK Government to listen to its farmers, food producers and scientists to continue its sound approach and resist marginal political interference.”

Mark Spencer MP, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture Chair, said:

“The UK has always placed sound scientific evidence at the heart of its agricultural policy and will continue to be the voice of reason in Brussels, championing the interests of British farmers and consumers.”

Dr Helen Ferrier, Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs Advisor, National Farmers Union (NFU), said:

“UK farmers rely on imports of GM feed products, particularly soya beans – the largest source of protein feed in the world – to provide the right balance of nutrition for poultry and livestock production. Nearly all of the soya used in the EU (95%) is imported from South and North American countries, where GM technology adoption is over 90%."

“Feed is a significant proportion of farm production costs. Any disruption to the trade flows of protein feed and resulting price rises puts significant strain on farm businesses, harming the competitiveness of the British livestock sector. The necessity for a functioning and reliable approvals system for GM feed imports has never been so clear."

“The rules and regulations around GMOs in the EU must be firmly based on sound scientific evidence and not on national politics or perception. And farmers should have the choice to access authorised technologies available to their competitors around the world.”

Paul Temple, farmer and Chair of the Cereals & Oilseeds sector board at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, said:

“As farmers we are already under immense pressure to produce more from less and for less – we cannot be expected to achieve this if we are also denied access to a key resource."

“If affordable imports are banned, how will I be expected to feed my cattle? There isn’t enough non-GM feed grown in the UK to meet demand and the prices will push up costs for all, including consumers and risk driving some farmers out of business.”

Paul Rooke, Head of External Policy, Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), said:

“The EU proposals to ban GM food and feed imports threaten a devastating effect on our members and the whole of the agri-supply industry, with knock on effects on British farmers and breeders but also the wider investment and jobs generated by the UK food chain.”

June Arnold from the Grain and Feed Trade Association, said:

"EU member states are heavily dependent on imports of GM feed.  Those EU member states who decide to restrict GM feed imports will create an un-competitive disadvantage for their livestock sectors both in their domestic and export markets which will  most likely result in the closure of holdings, have a negative impact on livelihoods of farmers and  jobs not only in rural areas but also in the food industry."

“Opting out will lead to the fragmentation of the single market of agricultural products and disturb the logistics and balance of supply and demand of GM feed. There are no replacement proteins in sufficient volumes to import into the EU. All GM food and feed products marketed in the EU have already passed a robust independent safety assessment and such a decision will only lead to extra costs for the entire supply chain and no doubt risk opening WTO processes on barriers to trade.”

– ENDS –

The report is available online at 
For more information, please contact the abc secretariat:  Sandamali Sutton at +44 (0)20 7025 2333 or

This paper has been prepared with expert input and advice from individuals and organisations across the agricultural technology, food and farming sectors. The messages and calls to action are supported by five leading plant science, farming and agricultural organisations:

  • Agricultural Biotechnology Council (abc),
  • National Farmers Union (NFU),
  • Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC),
  • Grain and Feed Trade Association (Gafta)
  • British Egg Industry Council (BEIC)

Three policy asks for the UK Government:

1. Supporting an evidence-based approach to agricultural biotechnology.
2. Continuing to take an active European leadership position on the issue.
3. Seeking and developing allies in other Member States to support the UK’s position.

Three policy asks for all UK political parties:

1. At UK level should continue the current evidence-based position.
2. At EU level should follow their national party line and seek to take leadership on the issue.
3. At all levels strongly reject any proposals for the nationalisation of decision-making on the import of GM feed and foods.

Report top-findings:

  • An EU-wide import ban for soyabeans would impact the EU economy by €26,1bn.
  • Without the same level of access enjoyed by producers elsewhere in the world, the UK and EU livestock sector becomes increasingly less efficient and increasingly less likely to be the supplier of livestock products to the UK and EU consumer. This also risks research and development being held back.
  • €9.6bn – The total forecast cost to the economy as a result of unduly delayed GMO import authorisations and the resulting trade disruptions.
  • Prices for non-GM soya for feed are already at a premium. Further costs associated with nationalisation proposals would mean further price rises for UK farmers and any price pressures in primary production will impact the onward food supply chain. Ultimately consumers will pay more.
  • 600% – The estimated increase in feed expenditure in the event of a two year import interruption if non-EU approved GM soyabeans were cultivated in the USA, Argentina and Brazil.

Comprising six member companies, abc works with the food chain and research community to invest in a broad range of crop technologies, including conventional and advanced breeding techniques, such as GM. These are designed to improve agricultural productivity by tackling challenges such as pests, diseases and changing climatic conditions, while reducing water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and other inputs. The companies are BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, Pioneer (DuPont) and Syngenta. Further information is available at

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