This report describes the trade and production of genetically engineered (GE) plant products, the use of GE animals for research purposes, and related government policies in the Netherlands.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: NL1014
Agricultural Biotechnology Annual
Plant and Animal Biotechnology - Annual 2011
This report describes the trade and production of genetically engineered (GE) plant products, the use of
GE animals for research purposes, and related government policies in the Netherlands.
Section I. Executive Summary:
The Dutch government and agricultural sector have a pragmatic approach towards the import and use of
genetically engineered (GE) agricultural products. Crop trials and commercial cultivation of biotech
crops are, however, effectively prevented by cumbersome regulations and by the threat of protests from
environmental groups. The Dutch livestock sector depends on feed imports from third countries, mainly
soybean meal, which for a major part is GE. The livestock sector does not keep GE animals nor do
Dutch agricultural research institutes, for research purposes.
Section II. Plant Biotechnology Trade and Production:
In the Netherlands, there are no commercial plantings of biotech crops and no biotech crops under
development are expected to be on the market in the coming year. Field trials are currently conducted
with genetically engineered (GE) potatoes. Experimental planting of biotech crops, however, is nearly
impossible in the Netherlands. Crop trials are effectively prevented by cumbersome regulations
imposed by the government and by the threat protests from environmental groups.
A large share of the Dutch agricultural imports from the United States consists of feed products and
requires labeling for biotech content under the European Union?s traceability and labeling legislation.
The slow approval process of new GE events by the European Union has significantly affected U.S.
exports to the Benelux region; in particular corn gluten feed (CGF) and Distillers Dried Grains (DDG).
Section III. Plant Biotechnology Policy:
On November 2, 2004, the Dutch agricultural sector and NGOs jointly presented their coexistence
agreement to the Ministry of Agriculture. The sector still needs to reach agreement on the scope of a
compensation fund for possible damage to conventional and organic crops, and a monitoring system in
the field. Some sector sources believe that the combination of restrictions will practically ban the
cultivation of biotech events in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government supports the use of socio-economic criteria for the approval of producing GE
products. As such, national Member State regulations should be conclusive, applying socio-economic
criteria. For the import of GE products, however, the current EU harmonized regulations should apply.
The Dutch government, therefore, opposes a study for the marketing approval for biotech products by
the Member State, in addition to the study of the European Union Food Safety Authority. According
government officials, the discussion about the use of such criteria should be held on an international
Section IV. Plant Biotechnology Marketing Issues:
The Dutch Farmers Organization (LTO) is pragmatic and in favor of planting biotech crops. But points
to the resistance of retailers and consumers towards food products containing biotech components, in
particular in export markets. The livestock sector depends upon feed imports from third countries,
mainly soybean meal, which for a major part is GE. There is no resistance by consumers as this meat
produced with biotech feed does not have to be labeled.
In November 2010, the U.S. Grains Council headed a group of U.S. producers and exporters of DDG
visiting the Netherlands. The focus of the meetings was to investigate the possibilities to increase
exports to the Benelux region. Furthermore, the American Soybean Association is located in the
Netherlands and active in this region.
Section V. Plant Biotechnology Capacity Building and Outreach:
FAS The Hague has indentified the following strategy for plant biotechnology capacity building and
? Maintain contact with host country livestock producers on the problem of feed availability.
Serve as a ready source of unbiased, scientific information.
? Promote with host government rational policies concerning adventitious presence of non-
approved GE events and the acceptability of meat and dairy products from animals fed with GE feeds.
? Nominate appropriate host country specialists for the International Visitors Leadership
Program, and utilize other Public Diplomacy programs.
? Work to get U.S. specialists invited to seminars in host countries. FAS The Hague feels that
U.S. farmers, producer groups, academics and scientists, are most qualified to objectively address their
views on biotech in crop production and will be listened to by the press and consumers. Arguments by
these groups are more difficult for anti-biotech groups to counter.
Section VI. Animal Biotechnology:
In the Netherlands, the genetically engineered bull, Herman, sparked a debate on the desirability of the
genetic engineering of animals. This debate led to the introduction of legislation to regulate the
application of biotechnology. There are no GE animals used for commercial use. GE animals are
authorized for use as laboratory animal for medical research at universities and academic hospitals.
Annually, 15 to 20 licenses are granted. The largest group of GE animals is mice. The Dutch livestock
sector does not keep GE animals nor do agricultural research institutes keep them for research purposes.
Organizations who want to use GE animals for medical research need to request a license from the
Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (ELI). The Animal Experiments
Commission (DEC) assesses the incoming license requests for biomedical research experiments. The
Dutch Committee on Animal Biotechnology assesses the other incoming license requests. These
licenses are granted only if the genetic engineering does not have any unacceptable consequences for
the animal?s health and welfare. Nor should there be any ethical objections against the proposed
application. The rules for a biotechnology application request are laid down in the Animal
Biotechnology Decree. The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority enforces these regulations.
In addition to a license granted by the Minister of Agriculture, institutes or corporations wanting to
make, reproduce, keep or transport GE animals also need a license from the Minister of Housing,
Spatial Planning and the Environment, who assesses the project?s potential adverse effects on humans
and the environment. This requirement is based on the Decree on Genetically Modified Organisms.