While there is a complex infrastructure dedicated to the bulk handling and movement of grain and seed from farms to consumers around the world, even the most sophisticated infrastructure cannot prevent different crops or crop varieties — biotech and conventional — from potentially coming into contact with one another. Therefore, biotech grain approved in the country of cultivation may be unintentionally present in small amounts in shipments to countries that have not yet approved them for import. This is known as “low level presence” (LLP).
Despite the robustness of production and grain trading systems and careful stewardship of all shipments from field to shelf, LLP may and most likely will occur. Because the product has already undergone a full and rigorous safety assessment, which the exporting country found to be safe and subsequently authorized the product for unrestricted use in food and feed, low level presence of that product is not a food or feed safety issue, but rather, it is an issue of noncompliance with the importing country’s regulations.
Failure to develop a proactive, transparent LLP policy could lead to cancellation of contracts, demurrage charges, risk premiums and supply shortages for the country of import. This can cause significant issues across the value chain – from farmers to consumers. Several studies in recent years have shown that rigid policies around LLP, such as a zero tolerance policies, impact both exporters and importers, with importers often bearing the larger share
For more information on economic and other impacts of LLP and Asynchronous approvals, see our GAABT resources.