Counter industry lobbying - Action on GM animal feed
On Saturday the Financial Times ran a story about how the NFU [whose leadership is ferociously pro-GM] have been lobbying the supermarkets to drop their GM-free feed policies for poultry.
(article pasted below).
The good news is that Marks & Spencer and Waitrose say they have no plans to change policy. Sainsbury's is "investigating potential sustainable solutions", no information in the article about the others.
This seems like a good time to remind supermarkets of the demand for non-GM food and the risk that weakening policies on non-GM feed will risk a shortage of GM-free ingredients for food. Please take action and send this link to your lists and friends:
This action only targets the supermarkets with the worst policies, but it would also be useful to write to the others to encourage them to stick to, and strengthen, their policies. Below are their details.
You can use most of the text from the letter online (copy and paste), just adding that you congratulate them on their non-GM feed policies and urge them to extend this to other products.
Full details of which companies have done what are here: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/evidence/gm_feed_table.pdf
Incidentally, contrary to the claims of the NFU poultry advisor that "the Brazilians are not going to bother growing non-GM just for the UK", Brazil takes very careful note of the demands of the market, and the EU (which the UK was still part of last time I looked) is still it's biggest customer with a large demand for non-GM soy.
The Co-operative Group
Manchester M4 8BA
Marks & Spencer
Email: via www.marksandspencer.com
Retail Customer Services
Marks & Spencer
Chester Business Park
Chester CH4 9GA
Email: via www.sainsburys.co.uk
Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
London EC1N 2HT
Waitrose Customer Service Department
Berkshire RG12 8YA
Farmers demand supermarket U-turn on GM feed ban policy
By Jenny Wiggins, Consumer Industries Correspondent
Financial Times, June 7 2008
Spiralling food prices are placing supermarkets under pressure from farmers' leaders to put poultry fed with genetically modified products back on their shelves.
The National Farmers Union has held talks with the product managers of all the major supermarkets to explain that shortages of non-GM soyabeans - the key protein source for poultry - was making it both extremely expensive and increasingly difficult to source the GM-free products demanded by retailers.
Robert Newbery, chief poultry adviser to the National Farmers' Union, said: "We're really struggling to work out where we're going to get non-GM soya from." The meetings followed letters earlier this year from the NFU to all the main retailers. The letters suggested supermarkets get rid of non-GM requirements for all their foods except their organic ranges.
There is no sign yet that the campaign has forced a change in policy but Mr Newbery said the supermarkets would have to give way before too long. Food producers say the UK's resistance to GM crops hurts British consumers by raising prices.
J Sainsbury said: "We are aware of the complex issues . . . and we are investigating potential sustainable solutions." Both Marks and Spencer and Waitrosesaid they had no plans to change policy.
Supermarkets stopped selling poultry products (including eggs) from animals reared on GM-feed in the late 1990s following a consumer backlash.
At the time, regular soya was only slightly more expensive than GM soya for British farmers. But as the world's biggest soya exporters have devoted more land to GM crops, the cost of unmodified soyabeans is rising. British farmers are currently paying around GBP276 per tonne for GM soya, and GBP293/t for non-GM.
With the US, the world's biggest soyabean producer, now 95 per cent GM, the UK has looked to Brazil for a GM-free alternative. But Brazil, the world's second biggest soya exporter, is expected to increase GM plantings from 54 per cent of its total crop to 65 per cent next year and 80 per cent over the next decade.
Mr Newbery said supermarkets should alter their policies on GM voluntarily before changes are forced on them. "Ultimately they will change because [the non-GM feed] will run out . . . The Brazilians are not going to bother growing non-GM just for the UK."
Additional reporting by Chris Flood and Tom Braithwaite