GM-free food will cost consumers

1 December 1999

‘GM-free food will cost consumers’

By Isabel Davies

CONSUMERS can have guaranteed GM-free food if they want it – but will have to pay for the privilege, MPs have been told.

Representatives of the biotechnology company Novartis made the prediction as part of their evidence to a Commons inquiry into the segregation of GM foods.

Producing food with a GM content under a certain threshold is possible but it is more difficult and much more expensive to keep a commodity GM-free, they said.

The view was backed representatives of the multinational grain merchant Cargill, who were giving evidence to the Agriculture Select Committee.

Separate transport, storage and processing facilities would inevitably mean GM-free crops would come at a price, said Cargill officials.

Even if UK demand boomed for GM-free food, the UK market would still be regarded as a speciality market in relation to the size of total world harvests.

But environmental campaigners said that the comments showed that companies involved in GM technology were still not listening to their customers.

“Their main preoccupation should be with providing their customers with what they want, at a price they can afford,” said Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth.

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