The Commission of the European Union is trying to clear a legislative logjam preventing agreement over the approval of using synthetic vitamins A, D and E in organic cattle production.

The Commission’s intention is to make up for nutrition difficulties caused by the EU ban on using animal protein in feed. Brussels has formally proposed that EU ministers agree their use, because they are “identical to the natural vitamins” and that they add a caveat that national inspection bodies show the health and welfare of animals would be threatened without these synthetic vitamins.

The problem is acute in northern countries where these vitamins are almost absent from roughage feed during winter. That said, Britain is resisting the proposal, with Italy, Portugal and Spain.