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The EU’s dependence on protein crop imports has become a priority topic for agricultural MEPs and Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, who has pledged to table an EU Protein Strategy by the end of 2018.

The EU imports 75% of its vegetable protein supply, largely in the form of GM soy from South America, for use in animal feed. The overall EU deficit has been growing steadily, due to the lack of profitability of protein crops in comparison to other arable crops within the EU and aided by duty free access for imports.

With the growing aversion developing in key markets to the use of GM proteins in animal feed as well as concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of this supply and vulnerability of the sector to international volatility, there is now a push towards turning the tide and encouraging domestic EU plant protein production in order to work towards self-sufficiency for the animal feed sector.

In April, MEPs voted through a resolution calling on the Commission’s upcoming Plant Protein Plan to include measured to make cultivation more profitable, through voluntary coupled CAP payment in all regions, investment in research, and a dedicated Protein Platform to identify cultivation areas and catalogue research within the sector.

This resolution also called for greater import diversification, highlighting that imports must meet the EU’s social and environmental standards and should preferably be GMO-free.

By Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive