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December 5, 2000

2 Min Read
"Mad Cow" Scare Increases EU Soybean Demand

BRUSSELS--Due to the latest "mad cow" scare in Europe, soybeans and other plant proteins will constitute the protein in cows' diets. The European Commission (EC) agreed on Nov. 29 to several new proposals put forth by Franz Fischler, the EC's commissioner for agriculture, including a six-month ban on meat and bone meal (MBM) for farm animal consumption. In MBM's stead, animals will be fed a diet consisting of plant proteins such as soybeans, rapeseed and sunflower seeds. Currently, the European Union (EU) uses more than 50 million metric tons per year of oil meals and protein crops in animal feed (the majority of which are soybeans), importing more than two-thirds of that amount from outside the EU.

This necessary measure took effect after the EU's Scientific Steering Committee ensured that MBM was safe due to new safety controls. However, until consumers are guaranteed these controls are iron-clad, this ban will be in effect until July 1, 2001.

According to the EC, the additional demand for these plant proteins may lead to price incentives for local European farmers. However, a press release from the EC stated that "a lot of supplies would still continue to be imported as production conditions in the EU are less favorable than in the [United States] or South America." This may lead to an increased demand for soybeans from the United States, even though much of the U.S. crop is genetically modified (GM).

According to the St. Louis-based American Soybean Association (ASA), the United States has been shipping GM beans to a predominantly anti-GM European Union. "The fact is the EU continues to buy commodity grade No. 2 soybeans from the United States, which are all considered GM because they include co-mingled biotech and non-biotech varieties," said Bob Callanan, communications director at ASA. "Last year, the EU bought more of these soybeans from the United States than in the previous year. The EU continues to be the largest regional export buyer of U.S. soybeans."

For additional information, visit http://europa.eu.int/comm or www.amsoy.org.

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