The European Parliament approved recommendations that chicken protein be fed to pigs, and vice versa.
However, the ban on using cattle and sheep protein in feed – which triggered an outbreak of “mad cow” disease in the UK from the late 1980s – remains in place.
Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon welcomed the move, which he said would reduce Europe’s reliance on imported soya. The UK currently imports 60 per cent of its protein animal feed, most of it from South America.
A study published last month in Environmental Research Letters revealed that soy expansion in cleared agricultural areas in the Amazon basin is contributing to the loss of rainforest itself.
But despite cutting back on the environmental damage being wrought on the other side of the world, consumers and farmers in the UK and Europe are not convinced by the move.
In May, when it was announced that European ministers would revisit the issue, The Independent reported that of 400 farm business leaders polled, two-thirds thought reintroducing animal byproducts to feed would cause the industry more trouble than it would solve.