A fact I did not know prior to our recent trip is that many EU countries do allow importation of GMO corn and soybeans from the US. Such products are used as animal feed, even though the same products could not be sold on the shelves for direct human consumption (unless the proper labeling was attached). Thus, milk on the grocery store shelves in EU member states may have come from cows fed GMO corn.
I also learned that in spite of EU's reluctance to embrace GMOs, cultivation of GMO crops is actually allowed in a few places in the EU.
But why the resistant to GMO foods in European Union states? The best answer I heard was from a speaker we questioned at the European Commission in Brussels. He correctly pointed out that "the science is the same on both sides of the Atlantic." The difference comes down to differing morals and ethics. He provided an analogy: the acceptance of RU486--the "morning after pill"--in the US generated a debate on the morality and ethics of using the pill. The science of how the pill works was not central to the debate. GMO's lack of acceptance in many EU countries is similar. The reluctance to accept GMO food is a moral choice by consumers. US biotech companies that spend their energy trying to convince EU consumers that GMO foods are scientifically safe are missing this point. Or so the argument goes.
|Dutch hog farm.|
Although US corn and soybean growers would love the EU member states to open their doors to GMO crops, one speaker said there is a silver lining for the US. An indirect result of EU reluctance to embrace GMOs is that an entire generation of European scientists have left the EU for US biotech firms.
As trade talks between the EU and US continue, there is no doubt we have not heard the last of this debate.
This article is part 3 of a 6 part series chronicling the Indiana Ag Leadership trip to Northern Europe and Liberia.