A consortium of U.S. commodity, seed and biotech groups has passed a letter to the European Health & Food Safety Commissioner asking for quick approval of more than 13 new biotech products, some of which have been waiting for the EU's OK for more than a year.
The new biotechnology products include soybeans, corn, canola and cotton. The groups noted that, while the process for approving new biotech traits had slowed in recent years, it now appears to have come to a "complete stop."
In the letter, groups say the new products have received positive European Food Safety Authority scientific assessments and have been considered by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health and the Appeals Committee.
They assert that a timely approval will ensure that livestock farmers in the EU have access to a supply of imported feedstocks. The last import authorizations for new biotech crops were issued by the European Commission in November 2013.
Noting the existing queue of 57 import files currently in the EU system, groups reminded the Commissioner of a commitment by EU President Jean-Claude Juncker to complete a comprehensive review of the EU's biotech approval procedure in his first six months in office, and urged the Commission to ensure that EFSA's scientific opinions continue to serve as the basis for EU approvals.
They said the European Commission should "respect the EU's obligations under the WTO" with regard to timelier biotech deregulation decisions. The letter said this timeliness was reaffirmed by the WTO in a 2006 dispute settlement decision that found that the EU was not complying with its international obligations to consider import authorizations on a timely basis.
In addition to the approval request, groups said the EU's compliance is necessary to enable the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, an agreement between the U.S. and EU that is currently in negotiations.
U.S. groups have been frustrated with EU sluggishness of biotech approvals, noting last November that approvals would likely be delayed again as a new set of European Commission representatives was installed.
Without import approval in all key importing countries, some traits commercialized in the U.S. must be monitored according to strict stewardship standards. Uneven approvals could force feed shortages and price increases, groups have said in the past.
Read the full letter courtesy of the American Soybean Association.