European Union (EU) member states have reportedly endorsed a draft regulation aiming to “harmonize the implementation of the zero tolerance policy on non-authorized genetically modified (GM) material in feed.” According to a February 23, 2011, Europa press release, the proposal put forth by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) would allow imported feed to contain up to 0.1 percent unauthorized GM seed, a limit that reflects the lowest level of GM presence considered by the EU GMO Reference Laboratory when validating detection methods.

If adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in the next three months, the draft regulation would apply only to GM feed material “authorized for commercialization in a third country and for which an authorization procedure is pending in the EU or of which the EU authorization has expired.” Under these rules, “feed will be considered non-compliant with EU legislation when the presence of this GM feed material is, after due consideration of the margin of error, above the technical zero.”

SCoFCAH apparently suggested the policy change to address “the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed based on imports of raw materials from third countries,” and “ensure that results are consistent in all Member States.” But the draft regulation has already met with public criticism from consumer advocacy groups that backed the “zero tolerance” approach. “There is absolutely no reason to allow contaminated food to be fed to animals in Europe. Weakening safety rules to appease the animal feed industry compromises human and environmental safety,” said a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Europe, which noted that only 0.2 percent of all EU soy imports were ever denied entry for GM contamination. See The Telegraph, February 22, 2011; Food & Water Europe, February 23, 2011.