ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

3 December 2001


EU: December 3, 2001 (Reuters)

BRUSSELS - Environment group Greenpeace said last week the separation of genetically modified (GM) soybeans from traditional varieties would not be hugely expensive and that costs were falling.

Earlier this week Jerry Slocum, president of the North Mississippi Grain Company, told a food conference in Brussels that a strict identity preservation (IP) production, distribution and delivery system "could easily double the price" of soybeans.

But Greenpeace said premiums were falling as demand for non-GM products rose.

"The reality of companies with practical experience of purchasing food or feed ingredients is that, after an initial cost of implementing an IP system, the follow-on costs become negligible," Lindsay Keenan of Greenpeace International said in a statement.

"Whilst premiums of 3-15 percent are being paid in many current circumstances, the trend is clearly towards a lowering of those costs as market forces - the strong demand for non-GM - continues to take effect."

Slocum said that given the way grain was harvested and transported to ports for export, only complete segregation from seed planting to the end-market could guarantee there was no mix between GM crops and traditional varieties.

"It requires dedicated systems and tight controls. It takes more time and more money," he told the Agra Europe conference.

But Keenan said such systems were already up and running in the United States.

"The U.S. farming and export sustem can already meet and is increasingly meeting non-GM demand by implementing Identity Preservation systems for food and feed ingredients," he said.

U.S. farmer and industry groups fear new EU proposals on traceability and labelling for food derived from GM crops will be unworkable and could force the creation of two separate production chains.

The European Commission has devised the traceability system as part of its new so-called farm-to-fork approach to food safety and to appease member states' concerns over GM food, which has led to no new varieties being approved in the EU for three years.



Costs of not segregating just get worse

"Canadian National is getting fewer orders for trains to haul corn from Midwest farms to ports on the Gulf of Mexico because Japan and other Asian countries have slashed U.S.corn imports by as much as 45 percent. Mostly, the importers are worried that U.S. supplies contain banned genetically altered varieties." - Dr. Darryl E. Ray, Director of University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Center

"...the U.S. grain industry will never stay competitive in foreign markets if it doesn't respond to customer demands by providing identity preserved, non-GMO corn if that's what the customer wants." - Dan McGuire, program director of the American Corn Growers Association: Farmer Choice - Customer First educational program

According to USDA's Foreign Ag Service Weekly Export Sales report, U.S. corn exports as of the week ending Nov. 15, 2001, compared to one year ago, are 10 percent less to Japan, 13 percent less to Taiwan and 18 percent less to the category 'other Asia and Oceania'.

"The only truly safe seed selection will be seed corn free of any genetic modification" - A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. in a letter to 1,200 of its corn suppliers

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