19 March 1999
Supermarkets to ban GM-fed meat?
By Vicky Houchin
TWO of Britains leading supermarkets are examining the possibility of banning meat from livestock fed on genetically modified (GM) animal feed.
Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys said today they were looking at the feasibility of sourcing meat only from animals reared in GM-free livestock systems.
The retailers have been meeting with international supply associations in the USA to work towards segregating GM crops used in animal feed from GM-free supplies.
Sainsbury believes that the first step towards GM-free animal feed is labelling, followed by a voluntary code of practice from the industry.
But the chain is looking to farmers to use GM-free feed in the longer term, said spokeswoman Gillian Bridger.
“We will work with the industry to source credible GM-free material,” she told FWi.
Marks and Spencer said that sourcing enough GM-free animal feed would be difficult until legislation enforces the separation of GM and non-GM crops.
But the company is now examining using GM-free crops from Canada and Brazil used for human consumption,
“We need to find segregated crops first,” said spokesman Crispin Burridge.
Both chains announced earlier this week the formation of a Europe-wide consortium to phase out the use of genetically modified soya in all their own-label brands.
It is almost impossible to purchase GM-free soya as a straight commodity, and many traders say it is expensive and can only be currently sourced in small quantities.
Ian Tremain of Mole Valley Farmers sells GM-free full-fat soya beans at £274/t from Canada, compared with 48% hi-pro meal at a spot price of £177/t.
Mr Tremain said it was impossible to obtain GM-free meal as it would not be possible to keep the GM completely separate.
“Its completely cost-prohibitive,” he noted.
Other suppliers contacted by FWi were unable to offer any quantity of GM-free soya, and feed mills say that quantities are scarce and diminishing.
“I regret to say that I can foresee a time in the next two years when non-GM soya will not be available,” said Geoffrey Appleby of Dukes and Botley Agriculture Ltd.