Conference to focus on global supply of non-GMO soy
The European Committee of Regions and the European GM-Free Regions Network have organized a conference, “Non-GM Feedstuffs, Quality Agriculture, and European Regional Agriculture Strategy,” to be held in Brussels, December 4-5, 2007.
Determine non-GMO soy supply
The purpose of the conference is to determine the global supply of non-GMO soy to meet Europe’s strong demand for non-GMO feed, says Renaud Layadi, sustainable development project manager, Regional Council of Brittany.
Europe imports 34 million tons of soy for feed production, 80% of which is either GM or conventional but exceeding tolerable GMO thresholds. But Layadi says, “European consumers are telling food producers they don’t want GM on their plate.
Europe has long-held traditions of producing meat and dairy products, which are valued by European consumers. These traditions are threatened by the use of GM feed. “If animals are fed GM feed, consumers believe it’s not traditional food anymore,” says Layadi. “We are worried. How can we sell our products if EU consumers don’t want them?”
Bring together global non-GMO soy suppliers
The Non-GM Feedstuff conference aims to bring together global suppliers of non-GMO soy from Brazil, North America, India, and South Africa to determine the global supply and meet potential buyers.
Layadi says there are concerns about Europe’s ability to procure sufficient supplies of non-GMO soy, especially now that Brazil has commercialized GM soybeans. “It appears to be more difficult to obtain non-GMO soy from Brazil,” he says.
Europe has been purchasing conventional, non-GMO soy from Brazil. But in recent years, Brazil’s GM soy acreage has increased, which has also increased GMO contamination of conventional soy. “We cannot rely on conventional soy anymore,” says Layadi.
He estimates acreage of GM soy to be 30%-50% of Brazil’s total soybean crop in 2007. The amount of certified non-GMO soy is estimated at 20%-25% of the total crop.
Layadi says Europe did not send a strong enough message to Brazil about its need for non-GMO soy. “Europe was slow to react,” he says. “One of the purposes of the conference is to show that there is a substantial European demand for non-GMO soy.”
Invited suppliers worldwide
Conference organizers have sent 3500 invitations to suppliers, agricultural cooperatives, livestock producers, retailers, and food manufacturers. “We have companies coming from Brazil, Canada, the US, and South Africa,” Layadi says.
Another aim of the conference is to develop a market study to determine the extent of the non-GMO soy demand in Europe. “We want to promote a better understanding of non-GMO supply and demand,” he says.
The conference will also examine the type of non-GMO certification needed, “hard” or “soft” systems of identity preservation.
The conference will be a good opportunity to learn and do business. “We want our producers to make contacts with suppliers,” Layadi says.
Hosted by Committee of Regions
The European Committee of Regions is hosting the conference. The Committee of Regions is one of the three main political organizations in Europe, which also includes the European Commission and European Parliament. Layadi says the committee is involved to maintain the economic strength of Europe’s regions, which are the equivalent of US states. GM crops present a threat to that economic strength. “All regions want to keep their agricultural sectors competitive,” says Layadi.
The GM-Free Regions Network is also involved in the conference. The network includes 40 regions in France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, United Kingdom (UK), Greece, Poland, and Austria. Strong GM-free regions include Brittany in France, Upper Austria, Tuscany in Italy, Wales in the UK and Basque Country in Spain. These regions are major agricultural producers and very important to the economies of their countries.
Layadi encourages Canadian and American suppliers to attend. “We feel that there are people in North America who don’t want to go GM,” he says.
For more information about the “Non-GM Feedstuffs, Quality Agriculture, and European Regional Agriculture Strategy” conference, contact Renaud Layadi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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