The number of acres of genetically engineered crops planted in the European Union has dropped to a three-year low, while imports of biotech crops and DDG are increasing.
According to an article by Agrimoney (http://bit.ly/…), only about 128,000 of the 180 million hectares of total world grain production with biotech seed takes place in the EU. All of those 128,000 hectares are MON 810, a Monsanto corn variety that is the only biotech crop approved by Brussels. Such levels are at a four-year low and total a 10% decline year-on-year.
Those low numbers are attributed largely to weaker corn prices and new rules by the European Commission urging growers to diversify crops, as well as a near total elimination of biotech crops in Romania due to bureaucracy.
Other regulatory constraints include the Czech Republic which has had difficulties marketing GM corn commercially. Even though Spain remains the only sizeable growers of MON 810, sowings are down 8 to 9%, coinciding with a drop in overall corn plantings.
Still, the consumption of imported biotech crops to the EU remains strong, as it is increasingly difficult to source non-biotech grain. Availability of non-biotech grains continues to decrease, while prices continue to rise. In fact, approximately 90% of the 30 million metric tons of soybeans and soybean meal the EU imports are genetically engineered.
The proportion of biotech corn imported into the EU is less than 25%; however, about 80% of the 200,000 to 800,000 tons of dried distillers grains comes from genetically engineered sources.
Although EU officials are trying to get rid of biotech policy red tape by giving individual members powers over regulating biotech crops, such measures are unlikely after being opposed by both anti- and pro-biotech groups.
Cheryl Anderson can be reached at Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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