The American Soybean Association this week urged the European Commission to find a workable and commercially viable solution to the EU's zero tolerance for the low level presence of EU-unapproved biotech events. European livestock and feed industries, along with U.S. growers, all have been advocating for a workable solution due to the EU's slow and politically-influenced biotech approval process that results in European biotech reviews and approvals taking over twice as long as science-based reviews and approvals in the rest of the world, including the United States.
The ASA and European feed and livestock industries believe a partial practical solution to this problem is for the EU to permit the low level presence of a biotech trait that has undergone regulatory review and received safety clearances in the country of export. The other part of the solution is for the EU to greatly improve the timeliness of its approval system and ensure that its approval process is wholly science-based, the ASA said.
In the course of the past six months, ASA has held many meetings in the EU on the asynchronous approvals and zero tolerance issues. In almost all of these meetings, ASA has been asked about zero tolerances (and in particular very low-level tolerances such as 0.1%) by concerned EU industries from the feed and farming sectors. In a letter to Paola Testori Coggi, Deputy Director General, DG SANCO, European Commission, ASA President John Hoffman said, "Given the complex nature of commodity production and exportation involving millions of metric tons of soybeans grown by hundreds of thousands of growers on millions of acres/hectares, a tolerance of 5% should be a minimum starting point."
Hoffman also pointed out that the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) standards for certified planting seed are set a 99% purity level. These rigorous OECD standards have been developed with the strong participation of EU Member State governments and industry to apply to planting seeds, not general commodity production. As such, the required purity standards for commodity imports should be lower (i.e., less than 99% purity) than that which the OECD, European governments, and industry have determined should apply to planting seeds.