Transgenic soya beans: economic implications for EU livestock sector


Ian McFarlane, New Agriculture Building, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AR, UK. Tel: +0118 378 6783
FAX: +0118 975 6467


World oilseed trade consists of many closely substitutable commodities, with canola and cottonseed as possible alternatives to soya beans for many purposes. Transgenic events in all three crops have been widely adopted, particularly in North and South America, for compelling economic or agronomic reasons. Despite the close attention from organizations concerned about the potential consequences of transgenic crop adoption, there appears to be no substantiated evidence of transgenic DNA in meat or milk products when such crops are fed to livestock. The global area of these transgenic crops continues to increase. No transgenic canola, cotton or soya bean crops are permitted for commercial cultivation in Europe, and although transgenic feed resources are permitted for import, importers risk shipments being denied entry if the traces of an unauthorized transgenic crop are detected. These tight controls can mean that livestock farmers in the EU are disadvantaged due to restricted access to cheaper feed or higher feed costs, and they are thus loosing a degree of competitive advantage. This paper reviews the extent to which transgenic soya beans have become the ‘conventional’ method of cultivation elsewhere, and notes implications this has for livestock nutrition, traceability and economics within the EU. The paper concludes with discussion regarding the implications for the EU of delayed acceptance of newly available transgenic traits.