Clive Beddall The Prime Minister is being urged to scrap the DTI's proposed code of trading practrice for the top five multiples and their suppliers and replace it with a code which has "real teeth". The call, which has reopened the wider debate about multiple power, comes from Friends of the Earth. After seeing a leaked copy of the draft code, it is arguing that the document has been "significantly watered down, and offers little, if any, protection to farmers." It argues that, on trading negotiation issues, it fails to define what is considered to be unreasonable, or what consitutes due care, or good faith, leaving the interpretation in the hands of the supermarkets. It adds: "Arbitration would be left to a mediator appointed by the supermarkets. This code offers little if any benefit to farmers and growers supplying supermarkets. And if more and more independent suppliers go out of business consumer choice will be eroded, as highlighted by the Competition Commission." But the comments have angered the NFU as it prepares to send its submission on the code to the Office of Fair Trading. Its head of marketing, Helen Lo, told The Grocer on Thursday: "We are amazed to see Friends of the Earth suddenly become Friends of the Farmers'. We strongly object to anything which attempts to drive a wedge between us and the supermarkets. "We will not be drawn into a them and us' situation with the big multiples. That is not constructive in these difficult times." However, NFU president Ben Gill, in an exclusive interview with The Grocer last week, admitted there were points in the draft that he was not happy about. But, he denied there was a major rift between the multiples and the farmers. The NFU submission is likely to be with the OFT by early next week, although, given there are rumours that some supplier representatives are also unhappy with parts of the draft, the consultations are set to go on for some time yet. - See Opinion, page 20. {{NEWS }}