25 September 2000
GM feed survey is ‘simplistic’

By FWi staff

A SURVEY claiming that two in three British shoppers want farmers to stop feeding GM crops to livestock is simplistic, claims a farmers representative.

In a poll commissioned by Greenpeace, 67% of those questioned said they were opposed to animals being fed GM material.

And 55% of those taking part said they would not wish to eat meat or dairy products from animals fed on GM diets.

Products from animals fed GM produce should be clearly labelled, said 90% of the sample.

But the National Farmers Union said the issue is more complicated than this because the term “GM-free feed” has not actually been defined at present.

The EU Commissions Novel Foods Directive is expected within the next few weeks to determine the maximum GM content permitted in GM-free feed.

Nor does the survey ask if consumers would be willing to pay extra for products reared on GM-free feed, says NFU feeds advisor Stuart Thomson.

“The NFU believes in choice on this issue, both for consumers and farmers,” said Mr Thomson.

He said the union was working on a consultancy exercise with Sainsbury to establish the feasibility and cost of GM-free feed.

Greenpeace believes the results will have serious implications for supermarkets and speed moves to remove GM-fed animal products from shelves.

Iceland has pledged that all its livestock for meat production will be reared on a non-GM diet from September 2000.

Greenpeace says most major supermarket chains are considering, or have already taken steps to remove GM-fed produce from some or all ranges.

These include Asda, Aldi, the Co-op, Mark and Spencer, Sainsbury and Tesco and Waitrose.

Safeway and Somerfield say they have an organic range for shoppers who want to avoid GM-fed produce.

The telephone poll of 1001 people was conducted by NOP between 1-3 September, 2000.

Some 60% of the US soya crop is GM. The UK imports 2 million tonnes of US soya each year.