Tuesday 09 October 2012
Imports of corn gluten and distillers' grains containing a GM maize variety are likely to increase in the coming months as a result of MEP's side-stepping a decision on the approval process.
The Commission is expected to approve the insect-resistant genetically modified (GM) maize variety MIR162 by mid-October after an appeals committee opted not to reach a conclusion last week on whether the EU should ban the grain.
However, the rise in imports is unlikely to have any impact on feed prices here because summer droughts in the US have made maize uncompetitive for inclusion in Irish rations.
Imports of MIR162 maize from the US into Europe for food and feed use have been blocked since mid-May as the variety went through a series of authorisation procedures.
As a result, the final decision rests with the European Commission itself. Given that MIR162 received a favourable European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion in June 2012, the Commission is expected to authorise the maize in the coming weeks.
While the lifting of the import ban will be broadly welcomed by the animal feed industry, it is seen by many as coming far too late.
"This should have been approved in June," said the Irish Grain and Feed Association's (IGFA) director, Deirdre Webb.
"Trade blocks such as the one surrounding MIR162 cost the feed industry and farmers millions of euro in higher feed costs."
In 2009, Ireland imported around 700,000t of maize by-products. However, import blocks on varieties such as MIR162 have reduced this to just 120,000t so far in 2012.
- Caitriona Murphy
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