Supermarket Morrisons has dropped its GM-free feed requirement for poultrymeat and eggs, as it looks towards strengthening its focus on sustainability.
The supermarket chain announced its decision to permit the use of GM feed in its poultry supply chain at its recent farming conference, in Harrogate.
The move follows years of industry lobbying, after supermarkets unilaterally banned all GM in poultry feed in 2001, even though they continued to allow it in other livestock rations.
David Evans, head of agriculture at Morrisons, said the company recognised that feed was becoming a major item of expenditure for livestock producers.
"Uniquely, poultry farmers have faced restrictions on the use of GM-feed, but this policy will be increasingly difficult and costly to maintain as the availability of non-GM protein, namely soy, decreases," he admitted.
"We are moving to permit the use of GM feed in the poultry supply chain and are strengthening the focus of sustainability, through the increasing use of certified sustainable soy," he added.
NFU chief poultry adviser Kelly Watson welcomed the move. "The availability of non-GM soya is declining all the time as producers worldwide switch to GM alternatives.
"The cost of non-GM has pushed up poultry feed prices, so this move to allow GM will help make feed more affordable, while making poultry production more sustainable. We would like to see other supermarkets follow suit."
It is understood that Asda has allowed GM rations for some time, but spokespersons from Sainsbury's and Tesco told Poultry World all of their fresh and frozen poultry produce would continue to be fed non-GM feed.