Before the GM Food and Feed Regulation came into force, 10 GM plant lines with potential use in animal feed had been licensed for commercialisation in the EU under the Directive 2001/18 on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment (this legislation is also known as the 'Deliberate Release Directive').
There were also several products on the European market derived from plant lines which had not been authorised under this Directive because there had been no intention to commercialise the plants themselves in the EU. All were granted temporary authorisation under the GM Food and Feed Regulation pending their evaluation by EFSA and decisions on their continued use.
Temporary and full authorisations granted under the GM Food and Feed Regulation mean that, as at March 2013, there are 48 GMOs with a possible use in feed in the EU – 27 varieties of maize, 8 varieties of cotton, 7 varieties of soya bean, 3 varieties of oilseed rape, a sugar beet, and two micro-organisms. Apart from the micro-organisms, these varieties have been produced to exhibit resistance to certain herbicides or insect pests or in some cases both. Further details of these varieties are given in the register on the Commission’s website, which can be found via the 'External sites' links on this page.
All of these GM varieties have been authorised for import and processing. Two of the maize varieties have also been licensed for cultivation, although only one is being grown commercially on a limited basis in the Czech Republic, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. The seed is not marketed in the UK because it is not suitable for cultivation here.
A larger number of GM plant lines, including varieties of cotton, maize, oilseed rape, rice and soya bean which have not been authorised for use in the EU, have been approved for growing elsewhere in the world, particularly major commodity-exporting countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India and the USA.
In general, the EU's authorisation procedures for new GM varieties tend to be slower than those of other countries, a time-lag known as 'asynchronous authorisation'. To deal with the possible presence of unauthorised varieties in imports of commodity crops for feed use, the EU adopted a measure (Regulation (EC) No 619/2011) setting a tolerance level of 0.1% for certain varieties for which a valid application for an EU authorisation has been made.