EU soybean and soymeal imports are unlikely to return to normal levels despite the EU's decision on Friday to authorise three maize types containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), industry associations said on Monday.
European Union imports of soybeans from the U.S for animal feed are at a virtual standstill because the bloc does not permit the presence of non-approved GMOs, even in tiny amounts, until they are also approved.
The EU on Friday approved import and processing of three GMO maize types MON88017 and MON89034, from U.S. biotech company Monsanto, and 59122xNK603 from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a unit of Dupont.
Some soy shipments to the EU which had been blocked as they contained small traces of the three maize types may now be freed for import, a spokeswoman for European grain trade association Coceral said.
But approval was still needed of the GMO maize type MIR604 from Swiss group Syngenta before normal imports could resume, she said.
Small residues of non-approved GMOs from ships, trucks and railway wagons have resulted in over 200,000 tonnes of soybean and soymeal imports being refused entry to EU ports this summer, largely in Spain.
EU approval for GMO imports has been slow because of public concern about their safety. But the EU Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said in September it would seek to find a solution on quicker approvals to stop disruption of other imports. [ID:nLE636474]
The decision about Monsanto 88017 on Friday could allow the release of quantities of soymeal blocked or retained at customs level in Spain, the Coceral spokeswoman said. However, it is highly unlikely that imports of soybeans and meal from North America will be restarted before the other GMO event, MIR604 is authorised.
The risk of incidents in meal consignments is considered as too high.
In October, EU grain importers and animal feed makers warned EU farmers faced serious shortages of soybeans and soymeal because small traces of other GMOs in consignments were stopping imports of the six to 7.5 million tonnes of North American soybeans needed between October and March 2010.
Alexander Doering, secretary general of the European feed manufacturers' association Fefac, also said soybean imports were not expected to resume until an EU decision was made on the Syngenta MIR604 maize.
The decision (on Friday) will bring short-term relief for material which has been sitting in harbours for quite some time where there had been positive results of trace presence, Doering said.
But normal trade cannot be resumed quite yet.
He also said the danger of small traces of MIR604 maize in soybean and meal shipments would be too great to permit normal purchasing.
Fefac believed an EU decision on MIR604 maize could be made in November.
(Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by William Hardy)