Tesco drops resistance to GM feed for poultry

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Tesco has caved in to pressure from farmers and will allow the use of GM feed by its poultry producers, following the lead of Asda and Morrisons.

In recent weeks, UK poultry and egg suppliers had highlighted the increasing difficulty in guaranteeing the feed they used was entirely GM free, Tim Smith, Tesco group technical director and former CEO of the Food Standards Agency, said in a statement issued last night.

With 80% of the world’s soya now genetically modified, less non-GM soya was being produced and there wasn’t enough non-GM feed available, he added. Tesco was also concerned over potential contamination of non-GM crops by GM feed. “The new DNA testing regime we have put in place has identified that the risk of finding GM material in non-GM feed is increasing.”

Allowing the use of GM feed did not mean that poultry and eggs sold by Tesco would be genetically modified in any way, Smith said. “The FSA is clear that DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it, not in animal products such as eggs or milk. Genetic modification affects only the crop used in the feed.”

“The FSA is clear that DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it, not in animal products such as eggs or milk. Genetic modification affects only the crop used in the feed.”

Tim Smith, Tesco

Tesco sought safety in numbers by highlighting it is not the first UK supermarket to change policy and, in an unusual move, specifically named those competitors who had already done so. “Asda and Morrisons already allow GM feed for poultry products, and our suppliers also work with other UK supermarkets.”  

Anti-GM campaigners have criticised Tesco’s decision. GM Freeze claimed Tesco had “badly let down” its customers in changing policy on poultry feed. “For the last decade or more they could have invested money in securing non-GM soya supplies as Carrefour have done in France but instead they have ignored their customers’ concern,” said a spokesman.

GM Freeze challenged several statements made by Tesco, including its assertion that modified soya does not make its way into the meat of animals fed on it.

Organically raised animals will continue to be fed non-GM feed, Tesco said, allowing its shoppers the choice of buying meat from poultry not fed on GM feed.

Morrisons changed its policy on GM feed in March last year to a torrent of criticism from the Soil Association and anti-GM campaigners. Asda had previously changed its policy in September 2010.

The Co-Operative Group said today that it could no longer guarantee that its own-brand chicken and turkey would be fed non-GM feed.

Meanwhile, a poll conducted for The Grocer has revealed that less than 4% of people trusted retailers to tell the truth about the use of GM technology.

The Grocer did not receive immediate responses from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose as to whether they intended to change their policies on GM feed.

Readers' comments (7)

  • bye bye Tesco

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  • bad move. I'm not interested in eating 'gm by default' and so won't buy chicken from supermarkets any more.

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  • Well, I can hardly say I'm surprised; but I am disgusted.

    Tesco's policy is clearly profit over human regard.

    These GM's are really bad news, and I feel the worst.

    Monsanto are trademarking our fruits and vegetables.

    Ill be continuing to support M&S and buy organic!

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  • Dont understand the whole obsession with GM free fed chickens?

    Doesnt anyone realise all the other things you eat from supermarkets contains GM product? From Bread to Beef!

    The uneducated/ignorant over reacting to Scaremonger stories from the Media, who try to shift the blame onto farmers, when its public/political pressure to keep food inflation down that is causing the problem!

    Winds me up a treat on a Friday afternoon!

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  • A woman came back from the south of France sometime around 1997, and told us (a group of Theosophy Society members in Edinburgh) that bees were dying in their millions rather than acquire nectar from GM crops & flowers or anything that was near them; And hence you have the reason for bees dropping in numbers. Also, 1990s wine writers were commenting on both Belgian beers & French Champagne & Spanish Freixenet.....all being sub-standard since 1988 - the year of a certain spraying of crops with a certain pesiticide. The Belgian Trappist monks told people they noticed an immediate sudden alteration in the quality of fermentation, it was visible on the surface of the beers deep inside the caves, yet the pesticide had been sprayed a few miles away from them........but the chemical composition of the air had been sufficiently altered, & never was to be the same again.

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  • This decision is about money.
    Tesco "caved in to pressure from farmers" is complete spin.
    And if they can't keep horse out of beef labelled products, I don't for one moment believe that GM food can be kept out of "organic" feed troughs.
    The annual bonus and profit trough will provide all the evidence you need.

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  • I doesn't matter if you buy chicken from a supermarket or a local butcher, there is no GM free soya left, Why would Brazil bother to produce the small volumes the UK needs when China wants 1000x the they dont care whether GM or not. We are lucky to still be able to get the any soya and to feed our animals.

    The GM is irrelevant anyway as it it only week resistance they have added - to stop adding bad week killers, not some change to 'killl humans'!

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