EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 11 table relates to the European Commissions legislative proposal to give individual EU Member States the flexibility to legally restrict or even prohibit the import and use of authorised GMOs for food and feed on their territories. For ease of reference this proposal will be referred to as the GM opt-out proposal. HOW DID WE GET HERE The GM opt-out proposal was tabled after the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker drew political attention to the GMO approval system in the EUarguably motivated at least in part by the media and political uproar in the aftermath of certain rulings of the European Court of Justice concerning GM maize 1507. As illustrated by Junckers statement below the proposal is an open attempt to translate a political wish into the technical level. I also intend to review the legislation applicable to the authorisation of GMOs. To me it is simply not right that under the current rules the Commission is legally forced to authorise new organisms for import and processing even though a clear majority of Member States is against. The Commission should be in a position to give the majority view of democratically elected governments at least the same weight as scientific advice notably when it comes to the safety of the food we eat and the environment in which we live said Juncker in his Political Guidelines published 15 July 2014. As they stand the rules for the authorisation of GM crops for food and feed use provide that each individual GM crop be authorised before being imported into the EU. This requires an extensive scientific risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA to ascertain its safety followed by a strict risk management procedure where Member States individually and jointly provide an opinion on the granting of the authorisation through two rounds of voting. If Member States fail to obtain the necessary majority to either support or reject an authorisation the Commission is compelled by the EU Treaties to formally adopt a decision. This is a system that therefore weighs Member States individual positions in view of reaching a common decision to authorise imports of GMOs. Although always a sensitive area when this system was democratically agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council in 2003 it was considered in line with the utmost respect for democracy and the founding principles of the EU including the internal market. Since its adoption and implementation more than a decade ago Member States have been unable to obtain a qualified majority in favour of or against any authorisation. This de facto compelled the Commission to formally adopt the authorisations in every case. While the functioning of comitology rules gathers no particular attention in other regulatory areas the special sensitivity of GMOs triggers strong criticism and political opposition which explains President Junckers alleged democratic deficit and the Commissions proposal to try to address the political conundrum. THE PROPOSAL IN A NUTSHELL Notwithstanding the current rules to authorise GMOs for food and feed purposes with its draft the Commission is proposing to permit that individual Member States be able to opt-out i.e. be excluded from such authorisationssomething that is granted at the EU level. In principle opting-out measures ought to be based on factors other than risks to human and animal health and the environment comply with the EUs international trade obligations notably its commitments under the World Trade Organization and be in line with internal market rules. In fact the proposal mirrors a parallel scheme affecting cultivation of GMOs in the EU since April 2015. At the time of writing this article the draft was tabled a year ago and it has undergone a number of legislative steps. The amounts of GM-free soy that are de facto available for use in the EU are much lowerthanthosethatarestatisticallyavailablegloballymostlyduetopoorquality and commingling issues i.e. the likelihood of traces of GM material despite costly segregation measures in place. Limited non-GM protein-rich feed material alternatives make the EU feed industry strongly rely on imports of soy. In terms of amino acid composition soy is the most completeproteinfeedmaterialonthemarketandreplacingthenutrientsdelivered by imported GM soy would require increased inclusion of other less efficient feed materials. The Economic Impact Assessment Indicates On the average of the marketing years 201213 to 201415 the EU used 28.5 mln t of soybean meal for feed i.e. 36.1 mln t in soybean equivalent. Out of this total more than 35 mln t or around 97 per cent were imported. The four potential opting-out countries considered in the Economic Impact Assessment i.e. France Germany Hungary and Poland used 12 mln t of soybean equivalent. Given an average protein and lysine an amino acid content in soybean meal of 46 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively soybean meal provides 4.4 mln t of raw protein and 265000 t of lysine to the livestock sector in the above-mentioned four countries. This in turn means that soybean meal represents 32 per cent of the total protein and 44 per cent of the total lysine that is used by the livestock sector in the opting-out countries. In this respect Figure 2 clearly shows the essential importance of soybean meal for the livestock sector. ConsideringthattheGMopt-outproposalwouldrestrictthecurrentlyexistingchoice between GM and non-GM food and feed and related efforts from operators as a means of commercial differentiation in opting-out Member States the bulk of GM soy in feed would have to be replaced by non-GM soy at a premium. The premium can vary between EUR 44t and EUR 176t i.e. 15 to 50 per cent of the value of the product.Consideringthe2015averagepremiumEUR80tplustheadditionalcosts atthecompoundfeedstageEUR30tthiswouldtranslateintoanincreaseofcosts for the EU livestock industry of around 10 per cent leading to an additional EUR 1.2 bln if four Member States opted-out or EUR 2.8 bln if the entire EU did so. Theimplementationoftheschemewouldinevitablyresultinalossofcompetitive- nessandsubsequentnegativerepercussionsforthelivestocksectorbothvis--vis non-opting-outMemberStatesandthirdcountriesandbothathomeandonglobal markets.TheEUlivestocksectorwouldlikelyneedtorelocateleadingtoadramatic loss of competitiveness resulting in lower investment income and employment generation in the sector. KEY FINDINGS OF THE COCERAL FEDIOL AND FEFAC ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT ON THE EUROPEAN GM AUTHORISATION OPT-OUT PROPOSAL FIGURE 2. Share of individual feedstuffs in total lysine usage in the potentially opt- ing-out countries Source Strategie Grains Oil World Fachstufe Landwirt GTIS own calculations. PROCEDURAL MILESTONES OF THE GM OPT-OUT PROPOSAL 22 April 2015 The Commission tables its legislative proposal. 13 July 2015 Initial Member States feedback at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council. 13 October 2015 The Parliaments ENVI Committee rejects the proposal. The Committee of the Regions also recommends to reject the text. 28 October 2015 The Plenary of the Parliament rejects the proposal and requests a new draft from the Commission.