10 January 2000
Tesco denies back-tracking on GMs

By Isabel Davies

TESCO has denied back-tracking on its ban on produce from land previously used for GM crop trials after saying that it would be in place only for one season.

The ban was revealed by Lord Melchett, the director of Greenpeace UK, during a presentation at the Oxford Farming Conference last week.

Lord Melchett claimed the ban meant that producers faced the prospect of never being able to sell food grown on land previously used for GM trials.

Tesco subsequently confirmed it was in the process of informing suppliers it would reject vegetables and salad crops from land previously for GM trials.

But this week the supermarket giant said in a statement that the ban would only last for one year after land had been planted with GM crops.

“Fresh produce supplied to Tesco must not have been grown on land used for GM crop trials without at least one seasons separation,” the statement said.

A company spokesman said Lord Melchett original announcement had been based on a draft letter which was later changed.

There was no scientific evidence on which to base the measure, he admitted.

But it was a precautionary step because customers wanted reassuring that fresh produce did not contain residual material of GM crops, he said.

“There is no scientific evidence to suggest GM ingredients are harmful but no one can deny customers are concerned about GM technology,” he added.

It was common sense for Tesco to provide its customers with what they wanted and the supermarket was not trying to stand in the way of science.