UK backs GM approvals overhaul

THE UK Government gave its backing to calls to speed up the approval process for GM crops within the EU amid fears the current system could decimate livestock production.

The call came from Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fisher Boel at the Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels this week, who said the EU needed to act urgently to address the situation.

She was backed by eight member states including the UK Government, which last month published a report warning the tough stance on GM in Europe could see feed costs rise 300 per cent.

More than 200,000 tonnes of US soy have been turned away from ports in the EU in recent months after traces of unapproved GM maize were discovered in them and industry leaders have warned the situation is likely to get worse as the EU approvals lag behind those in the US and other GM-producing countries.

A Defra spokesperson said the UK Government backed the calls for the approval process to be speeded up, adding that any change must ensure that the proper safety checks are carried out.

Any change in the rules will have to come from health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, although there is likely to be opposition from staunch anti-GM governments in France and Germany.

However, Mrs Fischer Boel said there was potential for individual member states to opt out and set up their own bans on certain crops, essentially setting up a two-tier approval system, and the Commission is currently looking at how that could be implemented.

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