British supermarkets may have been misled over the tight availability of non-GM soya, which prompted them to drop their requirement for GM-free ingredients in broiler and layer rations.
A statement from the Brazilian Association of Non-GM Grain Producers (Abrange) said is was “puzzled” by the supermarkets’ decision and suggested it was based on incorrect information.
“Since December last year, one of the large suppliers to the UK has been communicating to the market that they would no longer be supplying non-GMO soya because future supply could not be assured,” said the Sao Paulo-based organisation.
“This assertion is not accurate. This year, Brazil has enjoyed a record soybean harvest of over 82m tonnes, large enough to more than provide Europe’s entire soy meal demand. The percentage of non-GMO soy is estimated to be around 25% of the current crop.”
Abrange says the current supply shortage is purely down to the slowdown in Brazilian exports, due to pressure on port facilities caused by increased demand. “There is a shortage of berths for mooring ships in virtually every Brazilian port.”
The statement also hints at national affiliations. “This change could this well have as much to do with interest in opening the UK to imports of GM soy from the USA than to the temporary slow down in Brazil,” it suggests.
“It is surprising that UK retailers have used the current temporary slowdown as the basis for shifting to GM soya for animal feed.”
But the British Retail Consortium, representing the leading supermarkets, denies there has been any misunderstanding.
“Sourcing policies are for each individual company to decide individually,” said policy director Andrew Opie. “All our members work closely with the major poultry companies and the feed industry. All their decisions are based on a lot of detailed industry knowledge, obtained both in the UK and in Europe.
“Our members don’t change their sourcing policy lightly. They will have considered all the market intelligence and then communicated their decisions to consumers.”
The claims are also rejected by the UK feed industry. “Feedback from our members has indicated that worldwide volumes of non-GM soya are reducing year upon year,” said the Agricultural Industries Confederation. “This is borne out by the increasing price differential between non-GM and any origin soya. The latest information indicates that as much as 89% of the Brazilian crop is GM.
“We recognise that the short-term supply problem is due to severe logistical infrastructure issues associated with the record soya crop in Brazil. This substantiates our concerns about being able to secure adequate volumes of non-GM soya at below threshold contamination levels.”