Soil Association comment: M&S, Sainsbury’s, Co-Op, and Tesco GM animal feed
Soil Association, 12 Apr 2013
Following announcements from M&S, Sainsbury’s, Co-Op, and Tesco that they will no longer require that the farm animals in their supply chains are fed a non-GM diet, Peter Melchett, Policy Director of the Soil Association, said:
“Tesco and the Co-Op are misleading their customers by claiming that the GM feed will not be detectable in products like eggs, milk or chicken. This is not true. Several research studies have found that GM DNA in animal feed is taken up by the animal’s organs and can then be detected in the milk, meat, and fish that people eat. This has been confirmed today by the Government’s Food Standards Agency.
"M&S, Co-Op, and Tesco are also misleading their customers by claiming that non-GM feed isn’t available. They are wrong. In Brazil alone, there is enough non-GM animal feed to supply the whole of Europe. The quantity of non-GM imported feed into Europe is going up year on year, because supermarkets in countries like France and Germany are avoiding GM feed because their customers don’t want it. The British public also don’t want it. A survey today found that 70% of consumers don’t trust supermarkets when it comes to GM and a recent FSA survey found 67% of consumers wanted meat, eggs, and dairy labelled if they come from animals fed on GM feed.
"Consumers should have the right to know if they are eating products from animals fed on a GM diet. Currently, British people don’t have that choice. Supermarkets are choosing to hide the presence of GM animal feed and GM DNA in milk and meat by deliberately not labelling products from animals fed on a GM diet. What have UK supermarkets got to hide?
"Currently in the UK, the only way to be completely sure you avoid eating chicken or eggs from chickens fed on GM animal feed is to shop at Waitrose, and to avoid all GM animal feed, buy organic wherever you can. Consumers in the rest of Europe are able to make more informed choices as supermarkets there accurately label food. The Soil Association is calling for honest and accurate labelling on all food from animals fed on GM feed in the UK.”
1 – FSA - stated “improvements in detection means that tiny amounts of GM plant DNA could be detected in products from animals fed on GM crops.”
Agodi A, Barchitta M, Grillo A, Sciacca S. Detection of genetically modified DNA sequences in milk from the Italian market. Int J Hyg Environ Health. Jan 2006; 209: 81–88.
Mazza R, Soave M, Morlacchini M, Piva G, Marocco A. Assessing the transfer of genetically modified DNA from feed to animal tissues. Transgenic Res. Oct 2005; 14(5): 775–784.
Sharma R, Damgaard D, Alexander TW, et al. Detection of transgenic and endogenous plant DNA in digesta and tissues of sheep and pigs fed Roundup Ready canola meal. J Agric Food Chem. 2006; 54(5): 1699–1709.
Chainark P, Satoh S, Hirono I, Aoki T, Endo M. Availability of genetically modified feed ingredient: investigations of ingested foreign DNA in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. Fisheries Science. 2008; 74: 380–390.
Ran T, Mei L, Lei W, Aihua L, Ru H, Jie S. Detection of transgenic DNA in tilapias (Oreochromis niloticus, GIFT strain) fed genetically modified soybeans (Roundup Ready). Aquaculture Research. 2009; 40: 1350–1357.
3 - The most recent opinion poll we have seen, published by UK Food Standards Agency on 9 January 2013 http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/ssres/ states: “67% of the public think it is important (very or quite) to write on the label if the food product e.g. meat, egg, milk, is from animals that have been fed from genetically modified plants”.
GM animal feed ‘Silent Invasion – the hidden use of GM crops in livestock feed’ published in 2007 http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=bkVSpF9FMZc%3D&tabid=390
Holly Black| Digital Communications and Press Officer | Soil Association | 0117 314 5170
The Soil Association is a membership charity campaigning for planet-friendly food and farming. We believe in the connection between soil, food, the health of people and the health of the planet. To join or make a donation please visit www.soilassociation.org