Despite legislative pressure, US GM feed trade 'still strong' with Dominican Republic

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Although last year saw potential concerns about the import of GMO feed and feed ingredients from the US, use continues to be strong in the Dominican Republic, says analyst. 

A new report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service highlighted the use of biotech, or genetically modified (GM) feed and feed ingredients in the Dominican Republic. The US remains a strong trading partner with that country.

Imports from the US including feeds and feed ingredients including both bulk agricultural products and intermediate goods such as soybean meal and other products was valued at $1.1bn in 2015, said the agricultural attaché in the report. “The Dominican Republic (DR) represents an important destination for US feed grains, oilseeds and processed food products,” he added.

“Despite legislation limiting importation of genetically modified raw materials, the regulatory framework to implement that legislation has yet to be finalized,” he said. 

Regulatory challenges

The Dominican Republic has taken some steps that would appear to challenge or limit the amount of genetically engineered crops or genetically modified organisms (GMO) that could be imported into the country, said the agency. The country has signed the Cartagena Protocol and passed legislation to minimize the amount of such products that could be brought in, but these have not been strictly enforced.

“At the present time, Dominican legislation does not allow the production, marketing or imports of GMOs but, as noted above, these provisions are not enforced,” said the attaché. “Due to the lack of any regulatory framework, there are no biotechnology crops currently approved for direct consumption, processing or animal feed.”

But it is considered unlikely that the current administration has plans to enforce regulation regarding imports, he said.

“In the Dominican Republic, the coexistence between biotechnology and non-biotechnology crops is not regulated by the government and current rules and regulations do not address this issue,” he said. There are no labeling requirements for products made with biotech ingredients and the country has no low-level presence policy.

Biotech feed imports

The Dominican Republic imports the majority of coarse grains and soybean products from the US, Brazil, Argentina and other countries known for production of biotech feed crops, said the agency. “Therefore, the poultry, swine and dairy industries rely heavily on genetically modified feed inputs for livestock development and finishing,” it added.

A requirement for corn shipments to be certified as free of GMO material was lifted last year and the country often imports more than 1m metric tons of corn from the US and South America annually, he said

Currently, the Dominican Republic does not produce any gm crops, nor are there any under development at this time, noted the USDA report.

"There is no biotech production in the Dominican Republic and the country does not plan to pursue it at this time. During 2014, mid-size local producers of corn from the northern Dominican Republic publicly requested the government approve the use of transgenic products in order to address the competitive challenges posed by large scale corn imports. Those producers have questioned the 'inflexible' position of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic (MoA) in prohibiting imports of corn seeds and other genetically modified products. However, the government has not shifted their position in this matter."

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