The European Union on Friday issued a host of approvals for various biotech traits covering everything from corn and cotton to rapeseed and soybeans. The approvals cover importation, food, feed and industrial uses but came with a caveat; Individual member states will be able to opt out of the approval. The move means that while the genetically engineered traits are deemed safe, any individual member of the EU bloc may deny access of the products for any host of reasons.
After the announcement there was a flood of feedback. The American Farm Bureau stated the decision violates international trade laws and undermines the foundation of having an EU bloc. Other sources pointed to a recent International Soybean Growers Alliance study that says any three year delay in trait approval for soybeans over the next ten years will cost the U.S. economy nearly $19 billion dollars.
In any event, the news is sure to spark additional debate in Congress where Trade Promotion Authority is on its way to the respective chamber floors. Last week’s Ways and Means committee debate on the bill had committee chair Paul Ryan vowing to make sure language would be added to a final bill ensuring that “non-tariff trade barriers”, like the EU decision would have to be dropped before any agreement could be reached.
Included in the EU’s approval were both Pioneer’s Plenish high oleic soybean trait and Monsanto’s Vistive Gold high oleic trait. On the Pioneer side, the approval means that the Plenish trait and the Roundup Ready 1 trait are now both approved individually for import to the European Union. However, the seed is only available in a stack of the two traits which Pioneer hopes to have approval on by late this year. Monsanto’s Vistive Gold trait is still waiting on approval by China, which they hope to have by sometime in 2016 followed by a full commercial launch.Share