The American Soybean Association (ASA) ramped up its call for approval of three outstanding soybean traits by the European Union this week, saying that the tools are a critical part of the industry’s ongoing quest to meet sustainability and consumer demand goals, and that continued delays pose serious issues both for farmers and industry.
In a letter to European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on Tuesday, ASA expressed deep concern with the EU’s delayed authorization of three new soybean traits: Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant RR2Xtend and Vistive Gold high oleic traits, as well as Bayer CropScience’s isoxaflutole-resistant Balance Bean trait. All three traits received positive opinions from the European Food Safety Authority in May and June of last year, and have awaited approval for five months following an Appeals Committee ruling in January.
“The Commission’s lack of action in providing final authorization for these soy events has already caused unnecessary uncertainty, disruption and cost in the agricultural supply chain. Immediate authorization by the European Commission is needed to avoid substantial additional unnecessary costs and possible disruption to the essential supply of feedstocks needed by the EU’s livestock, poultry and feed industries, which are more than 70 percent dependent on imports of vegetable protein,” the letter stated.
ASA also cited repeated assurances over the course of several months from EU officials that approval of the three traits was imminent as providing a false sense of security for farmers looking to utilize the traits to meet sustainability goals and comply with the food industry’s ongoing move away from trans fats in the American marketplace.
“As the threat of resistant weeds continues to move across soybean country, and the specter of increased input costs coupled with a down farm economy looms over so many soybean farmers, we need more options in the marketplace. We are not benefited by new products that are stuck in a malfunctioning approvals pipeline,” said ASA President Richard Wilkins, a farmer from Greenwood, Del. “Add to that the ability of high-oleic soy to help answer the growing market for cooking oils free of trans fats, and you see the real value in these three traits.
“The European Commission must abide by the timelines set out in in its own regulations, as well as its obligations under the World Trade Organization, and give these traits the approvals that it has said are forthcoming,” Wilkins added.