Indeed livestock animals get a diet that can contain feed ingredients produced from genetically modified (GM) crops. It is well known for example that a very large proportion of soybean meal used in the EU is produced from genetically modified soybeans.
All feed materials produced from GM crops that are used in the EU have been tested for food and feed safety by the European Food Safety Authority. A large body of scientific research supports the view that authorised GM crops are as safe for human or animal consumption as their non-GM equivalent. In addition, GMO-derived feed materials have been included in animal feed manufacturing for more than 25 years. The current application of GMO technology in crops focuses on increasing beneficial traits to arable farmers, such as increased yields and reduced pesticide use, meaning currently available feed materials derived from GMO crops do not provide any particular nutritional advantage or disadvantage to European livestock farming.
With the large penetration level of GMO technology in large agricultural exporting countries (e.g. USA, Brazil, Argentina), GMO-derived feed materials have simply become mainstream in global commodity trade, particularly for soybean and maize. Considering that the EU is still dependent on the global market for its supply in feed, in particular high protein-rich feed materials (30-50% of protein content), EU operators must import feed materials derived from GMO crops.
Feed delivered to livestock farmers containing more than 0.9% GMO-feed materials is labelled accordingly. In different Member States a number of initiatives have been developed to cater to the demand for animal products fed with ‘non-GM feed’. Therefore choice is offered to consumers who wish to purchase these kind of animal products.
– Regulation (EC) 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed was adopted on 22 September 2003