Retailers should copy GM move by Morrisons

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Morrisons’ decision to allow GM feed in the poultry supply chain will be welcomed by many in farming - and should be followed by other retailers.

Poultry farmers have previously faced restrictions on the use of GM feed, forcing the industry to pay over the odds for non-GM supplies. The cost of animal feed is the single-biggest expense for most livestock farmers, with non-GM feed becoming pricier as the availability of non-GM protein (namely soy) decreases.

GM crops already form a key part of the food supply chain. Indeed they provide as much as 70% of the EU’s agricultural protein feed needs, which are under constant pressure from changing global demand.

Morrisons has clearly decided GM soy is the way forward (and no surprise when more than three trillion meals containing GM ingredients have been consumed to date, without one substantiated health issue reported). This is a step in the right direction, but the EU must now create a more sensible regulatory framework for the feed supply system -which doesn’t deny farmers the choice of using GM products.

Dr Julian Little, chair, Agricultural Biotechnology Council

Readers' comments (8)

  • The Agricultural Biotechnology Council? Oh yes, the voice of Monsanto.

    And the claim, "more than three trillion meals containing GM ingredients have been consumed to date, without one substantiated health issue reported" is breathtakingly unscientific. (I note they have ceased saying that so many Americans have eaten GM meals, as everyone knows how unhealthy the Americans have become as a nation.) Truth: GM has been eaten. People have got sick. Connection? No one knows because there is no labelling in US, no traceability, and almost no pre-market toxicology testing of GMOs.

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  • How on earth does Dr Julian Little know that the three trillion meals containing GM ingredients have had no substantiated health issues. There is absolutely no science to back up this claim. There's never been a single study on the effects of GM food on humans. Yet studies on animals fed on GM foods have shown a lot of reason for concern.
    French researcher Dr Gilles-Eric Seralini from the University of Caen examined raw data from safety tests that Monsanto were forced to publish by anti-GM campaigners. According to the research, animals fed on three strains of genetically modified maize created by the U.S. biotech firm Monsanto suffered signs of organ damage after just three months.

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  • bet Morrison's are delighted to be supported by the GM industry....all that time and money building a "friendly" and "local" brand to be wasted by becoming best friends with Monsanto.

    all those Roundup residues in Morrison's chickens, and all those customers going to Tesco's, Coop and Sainsbury's. some smart cookie must be re assessing his pension plan.

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  • New Study Is First to Show That Pesticides Can Induce Morphological Changes in Vertebrate Animals, Says Pitt Researcher

    When exposed to the popular herbicide Roundup, tadpoles change shape in ways that are normally induced by predators

    University of Pittsburgh, March 30 2012

    B. Rose Huber


    Cell: 412-328-6008

    PITTSBURGH— The world's most popular weed killer, Roundup, can cause amphibians to change shape, according to research published today in Ecological Applications.

    Rick Relyea, University of Pittsburgh professor of biological sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt's Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, demonstrated that sublethal and environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup® caused two species of amphibians to alter their morphology. According to Relyea, this is the first study to show that a pesticide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate animal.

    Relyea set up large outdoor water tanks that contained many of the components of natural wetlands. Some tanks contained caged predators, which emit chemicals that naturally induce changes in tadpole morphology (such as larger tails to better escape predators). After adding tadpoles to each tank, he exposed them to a range of Roundup® concentrations. After 3 weeks, the tadpoles were removed from the tanks.

    “It was not surprising to see that the smell of predators in the water induced larger tadpole tails,” says Relyea. “That is a normal, adaptive response. What shocked us was that the Roundup® induced the same changes. Moreover, the combination of predators and Roundup® caused the tail changes to be twice as large.” Because tadpoles alter their body shape to match their environment, having a body shape that does not fit the environment can put the animals at a distinct disadvantage.

    Predators cause tadpoles to change shape by altering the stress hormones of tadpoles, says Relyea. The similar shape changes when exposed to Roundup® suggest that Roundup® may interfere with the hormones of tadpoles and potentially many other animals.

    “This discovery highlights the fact that pesticides, which are important for crop production and human health, can have unintended consequences for species that are not the pesticide’s target,” says Relyea. “Herbicides are not designed to affect animals, but we are learning that they can have a wide range of surprising effects by altering how hormones work in the bodies of animals. This is important because amphibians not only serve as a barometer of the ecosystem’s health, but also as an indicator of potential dangers to other species in the food chain, including humans.”

    For two decades, Relyea has studied community ecology, evolution, disease ecology, and ecotoxicology. He has authored more than 80 scientific articles and book chapters and has presented research seminars around the world. For more information about his laboratory, visit

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  • I recently spent time in Germany and there, major retail chains like EDEKA, REWE and tegut are falling over themselves to proclaim that they sell lines of products from animals raised on non-GM feed. In France, Carrefour also has a non-GM-fed line. The trend is going towards more non-GM-fed lines, not less.
    I wonder why the UK is going in the opposite direction? And why the problems that the UK poultry industry is claimed to face in getting non-GM feed supplies do not apply in Germany?

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  • Dear Sir,

    It is hard to believe that Julian Little, chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, is given such prominent space for his claims in the leading British retail industry publication (Retailers should copy GM move by Morrisons, The Grocer, 31 March).

    Has a tectonic shift occurred overnight that went unnoticed on the European continent but that caused British retailers to align with their GM-lovin’ brethren across the Atlantic? But wait, that can’t be so, because a major drive is currently taking place all over the U.S., causing state legislators to implement regulations demanding labeling of GM food. And that means a LOT of labeling. Trouble is brewing for Monsanto on its home turf.

    Sarcasm aside, Little’s article is anachronistic. With the arrival of Luxembourg most recently, now four EU Member States have created national regulations on labeling food products as GM-free. Depending on where one shops, this may be spelled “Nourri sans OGM”, “Ohne Gentechnik”, or “Gentechnik-frei erzeugt”, but the message is always the same: Consumers have the choice of deciding whether they want such a claim-bearing product or the obscure, no-information brand that may be a tad cheaper.

    We at AgroTrace are a dedicated importer and distributor of GM-free raw materials, mostly soya meal, from Brazil and India and we can confirm that enough non-GM soya is available. Perhaps Dr Little relies too much on the ISAAA statistics published every February. This year, again, this GM industry-funded lobby group bragged about a huge increase in acreage of GM crops planted.

    But we ship tonnages and not acreage. During the 2011/12 season, Brazil alone produced over 7 million metric tons of non-GM soy products that were segregated and certified as having less than 0.1 percent GM content. That is about 20 percent of the entire EU consumption of soya meal.

    What availability problem is Dr Little talking about? It seems it is one of wishful thinking. After all, the GM industry sponsors of Dr Little’s employer, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, have predicted such reduced availability since 1999.

    It is time for major retailers in Britain and elsewhere to focus on what their customers really want and are willing to pay for, provided they are given the necessary information to make an educated choice.

    Jochen Koester
    AgroTrace S.A.
    Geneva, Switzerland

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  • This article is misleading retailers. I will be providing feedback to "The Grocer".

    The consumer can see through the spin. The consumer does not want GM food. The technology is unsafe for humans, animals and the environment. The technology is unethical.

    I am very surprised and amazed the magazine has published such obvious misleading PR as it is damaging to the magazine's reputation and the people associated with it.

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  • I am really surprised and disappointed that you allow obviously biased parties like the The Agricultural Biotechnology Council's Dr Julian Little, to use your publication to promote their vested interests.The article reads like a pure advertising copy for the GM and biotech industry and has nothing to do with objective reporting or journalism. If your publication has decided to use lobbyists instead of journalists to add content, that is a very sad day indeed.

    Very, very disappointed

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