EC Farm to Fork Strategy missed the opportunity on ecofeed

27th May 20 by Karen Luyckx, Head of Research

Feedback encourages the EC and the UK government not to lose sight of the enormous gains that a review of the feed ban rules could deliver

The European Union is unique in prohibiting the use of animal by-products in feed for omnivorous non-ruminant livestock such as pigs and chickens; a practice which is commonplace in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. I imagine the feed industry in these countries is baffled by the way in which we squander high quality protein by legislating it out of our feed supply chain. Meanwhile, Europe grapples with a protein deficit which it continues to fill with rainforest soya.

The Japanese exclaim: “Mottainai” “What a waste”! because Japan currently recycles over half of the surplus from its manufacturing, retail and catering sectors into non-ruminant feed. Leftovers are heat-treated and processed in specialist highly bio-secure treatment plants to ensure the feed is safe.

Feedback welcomed the February draft of the Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Commission which proposed to “review the feed ban rules for feed for non-ruminant animals (in particular pigs and poultry) as well as certain rules of the Animal By-Products Regulation in order to promote more circularity and better valorisation of animal by-products while safeguarding animal and human health”.

Sadly, this commitment was removed from the final version, which instead states that the Commission “will examine EU rules to reduce the dependency on critical feed materials (e.g. soya grown on deforested land) by fostering EU-grown plant proteins as well as alternative feed materials such as insects, marine feed stocks (e.g. algae) and by-products from the bio-economy (e.g. fish waste).”

Feedback strongly encourages the European Commission and the UK government not to lose sight of the enormous gains that a review of the feed ban rules could deliver, from reducing our reliance on soya driving deforestation in precious South American ecosystems, to decoupling our feed supply chain from global commodity markets, to reducing feed costs driving ever more intensive and damaging livestock farming practices. For details on the greenhouse gas emissions savings, other benefits and safety aspects, see the REFRESH policy brief on animal feed.

But legislating for the safe use of by-products and leftovers in animal feed is only part of the circular farming model we want to see. Firstly, we need to return to nose-to-tail eating, making sure no protein, calorie, vitamin or mineral leaves the food supply chain unnecessarily. It costs too much to produce in the first place and represents a waste of precious natural resources.

Secondly, there is no way around it, we need to drastically reduce the amount of meat and dairy in our diets altogether. One way to determine the limitations of livestock production, including farmed fish, is to apply the food – feed competition avoidance principle where arable land that can be used for producing human-edible crops is never used for feed. Likewise, all fish caught should feed humans directly, as we will set out in detail in our forthcoming report on Scottish salmon.


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