ASA Provides Update On Its Discussions with EU on Biotech Seed
American Soybean Association (ASA) First Vice President Steve Wellman traveled to the European Union (EU) to discuss the approval process for seed traits developed through biotechnology.
This mission is part of the organization's biotech outreach and advocacy efforts that come from the direction of ASA's Biotech Working Group, a coalition of industry trait providers and grower leaders of USB, USEEC and ASA.
"Our general focus was on the EU biotech trait approval process," Wellman said. "ASA wants to avoid trade interruptions and assure U.S. imported soybeans have unfettered access into the EU market."
Wellman met with associations representing grain traders, processors, food retailers, livestock feed manufacturers, farmers interested in cultivating biotech crops, and Europa BIO. Government related meetings were held with the Danish Ag Council, and with Maurice House and Elisa Wagner of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). During a luncheon discussion hosted by MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Britta Reimers from Germany, Wellman provided a biotech overview to the 30 key MEPs, staff advisors and industry who attended.
Specific discussions covered individual traits, such as the reauthorization of Roundup Ready 1 Soybeans, and the approval of new high-oleic soybeans, which provide oil that is more stable at high cooking temperatures and is healthier than commodity soybean oil. High-oleic is the first stacked-trait soybean seeking EU approval. It contains a stack of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soybean trait with Pioneer's Plenish high-oleic oil quality trait.
Wellman also participated in the recording of a video interview with FAS for online use to provide information about the benefits of biotechnology, and a briefing and informational meetings with representatives from the U.S. and Brussels office of Pioneer Hi-Bred.
Wellman said the low level presence technical solution for feed is not yet finalized, but it is highly anticipated by EU industry to enter into law this month. When finalized, the feed technical solution will only apply to non-approved traits for which European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has had an application for 90 days.
"The policy still is zero tolerance, but you can't measure zero, so a .1 percent technical solution was developed," Wellman said. "They don't see it as a long term solution, but it does allow for some tolerance that they have not had before. A desire to gain a technical solution for food was voiced at most of the meetings, which probably will not be brought up until 2012. Of course, if the EU approved these new traits on a more timely basis, the need for a technical solution would diminish."