European Union vote favors U.S. soybeans
The European Union (EU) Parliament recently rejected a controversial proposal that would have allowed its individual member countries to ban or limit imports of genetically-modified (GM) foods or products, including U.S. soybeans.
That’s good news for U.S. soybean farmers, who rely on GM technology and exported $1.5 billion in soybeans and $860 million in soybean meal to EU countries in 2013.
“This is a much-needed action by the EU Parliament,” says Wade Cowan, a Texas soybean farmer and president of the American Soybean Association (ASA). The United Soybean Board and ASA have lobbied EU officials for years to make science-based decisions on regulatory matters.
“One of the unifying principles of the EU is to provide a single market within Europe and as a partner in global commerce,” Cowan says. “Enabling each of its 28 member states to go rogue on GMO acceptance based on societal or political concerns is hardly a unifying strategy for success.”
The vote could also affect the larger issue of anti-GMO sentiment in Europe and beyond. “We’ve long ago given up access to Europe’s markets for bulk commodities,” says Stephanie Mercier, senior policy and advocacy adviser, Farm Journal Foundation. “The greater concern is the European attitude is starting to infect other countries.”
One example is Zambia, where the government refused food aid of GM corn in 2002 despite a devastating famine. “The need for more food is so dire in Africa we cannot afford to take anything off the table,” Mercier says.