French ag and ecology ministries announced today, Sept. 17, they’ll ask the European Commission to “opt out” France from growing genetically modified crops in France.
This will include corn traits already approved or awaiting European Union authorization. Four other nations took this route earlier under an EU provision allowing member states to decide independently whether to allow cultivation of GMO crops.
Recent long-term studies on the health implications of GMO crops and related herbicides have intensified these moves. Russia and Ukraine already forbid cultivation of GMO crops. Other nations trading across Europe will soon come under intensified pressure to go GMO-free, or risk losing markets.
Also, rising public sentiment against transgenic grains, plus the nearly universal residuals of glyphosate, are likely to intensify the pressure to find alternatives to importing GMO corn and soybeans. EU nations import about 30 million tons of soybeans annually. About 70% of concentrate rations for EU livestock come from imported corn, distillers dry grain byproducts from ethanol, soymeal and soybeans. Most of these products — whether from North America or South America — come from genetically modified crops.
Thus there’s an intense debate in Europe: It may be easy to ban raising of GMO corn and beans, but replacing the import of GMO feedstuffs is a huge challenge. Here’s a site that offers background on this debate.
One indicator of the degree of market pressure favoring non-GMO feedstuffs is the premium for non-GMO corn and soybeans. That has fluctuated over the past few years, and narrowed somewhat as grain prices slumped.