USSEC and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) collaborated during a series of meetings in Brussels, Belgium last week to raise concerns about delays in approvals for soybean and corn biotech events and stressing the need for a predictable, transparent, and science-based regulatory system in the European Union.
USSEC vice chairman Jim Miller, a Nebraska soybean farmer, and USSEC Marketing Director - Market Access/Freedom to Operate Roz Leeck met with European Parliament members, European Commission officials, and European Food and Feed Chain representatives.
Mr. Miller, together with Dean Taylor, a USGC delegate from the Iowa Corn Growers Association and leader of the USGC Biotechnology Advisory Team, described their experiences as farmers who use biotechnology and other innovative technologies, sharing how adopting these tools has helped them to improve their economic and environmental sustainability. They interacted with European stakeholders, telling them that they will continue to promptly adopt and take advantage of new events as they are approved in the United States and in other key markets with workable and functioning regulatory systems.
Creating an opportunity for U.S. farmers to share these positions directly is critical to forward movement in the European market. The EU has delayed final approval of three soybean events and one corn event that have already gone through the risk assessment and risk management processes but have still not cleared the final hurdle by the European Commission. The European Parliament has further complicated this process by voting on resolutions of disapproval for events that have been cleared for final approval. Although this action is non-binding, it adds further uncertainty to the biotech approval process.
In meetings with European Commission departments covering agriculture, trade and health, both USSEC and USGC representatives reiterated they are not seeking to change the EU's biotech approval laws and regulations or reduce existing levels of protection, but are seeking improvements to the EU approval system to bring it in line with EU-legislated timelines as well as a more practical approach to situations of low-level presence of yet-unapproved traits in grain shipments to the EU.