* Bloc allows 0.1 pct unapproved GM
* Threshold applies only to imports of feed, not food
BRUSSELS, June 24 The European Union adopted new
rules on Friday allowing traces of unapproved genetically
modified (GM) material in animal feed imports, in a bid to
secure grain fodder supplies to the import-dependent bloc.
"The regulation ... addresses the current uncertainty EU
operators face when placing on the market feed products imported
from third countries," the Commission said in a statement.
The EU and its trading partners -- backed by industry --
argue the 0.1 percent threshold is needed to avoid a repeat of
supply disruptions in 2009, when U.S. soy shipments to Europe
were blocked after unapproved GM material was found in some
But environmental campaigners and consumer groups have
accused the EU of caving in to GM-industry lobbying by reversing
its "zero-tolerance" policy on unauthorised GM crops.
Some environmentalists argue that the effect of consuming GM
crops is unknown and say these varieties have not completed the
EU's safety assessment process.
The GM crops in question must have been approved in a non-EU
producing country and an EU authorisation request must have been
lodged with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for at
least three months.
EFSA must also have issued an opinion that the presence of
GM products at 0.1 percent does not pose risks to health or the
The 0.1 percent threshold will only apply to imports of
animal feed and not human food, despite warnings from traders
and exporting states that it is impractical and costly to
separate global grain supplies into those destined for humans
and those for animals.
The EU currently imports some 45 million tonnes of protein
crops a year, much of it soy beans and soy meal from Brazil,
Argentina and the U.S. destined for use as animal feed.
The majority of soy beans grown in these countries are GM
varieties developed by biotech companies such as Monsanto
A majority of EU governments are reported to be in favour of
a similar threshold for food imports, but the Commission has
said it currently has no plans to table such a proposal.
(Reporting by Charlie Dunmore; editing by Jason Neely)