The EU Commission is still taking far too long to authorise the use of new genetically modified (GM) maize and soya varieties in compound animal rations, according to Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA) director Deirdre Webb.

“The science driving GMO technology has been shown to be perfectly safe,” she said.

“But still we have to wait for years to have new varieties of maize and soya authorised by Brussels. This is impacting significantly on the business plans of compounders and the prospects for Irish farmers, who are not allowed to benefit from these specific feed options.

“Currently, there are four main issues impacting on the availability and price of inputs used in Irish compound feed rations. These are: weather, currency, the logistics of getting raw materials physically into this country and the GM factor.

“In reality, this list should be reduced down to three factors with GM taken out of contention altogether.”

Webb pointed out that tillage farmers in countries such as the US will continually opt to use the latest GM varieties coming onto the market.

“And this is another reason why it is important for Brussels to get its act together, when it comes to GM.

“The Commission ratified 17 varieties of GM maize and soya back in the spring. And this should get Irish compounders across the line when it comes to sourcing raw materials for the winter ahead. But already, we are looking at a new GM backlog building up for the 2016/17 feeding season.

Last week saw EFSA, the European Commission’s Food Safety Authority, declaring GM soybean Mon 87708 × Mon 89788 and GM maize NK603 × T25 as ‘safe’.

“But it could still take up to a further two years for these varieties to be fully ratified by the European Commission,” said Webb.

“This is typical of the problems that we have to deal with, when it comes to doing business with Brussels.”