Genetically modified foods remained one of the hottest topics of the year for the grocery industry, thanks partly to an exclusive interview given to The Grocer by the Princess Royal. "Man has been tinkering with food production and plant development for such a long time that it's a bit cheeky to suddenly get nervous about it when, fundamentally, you are doing much the same thing," she told us in the summer. And the Princess Royal added: "It is a huge over-simplification to say all farming should be organic or that there should be no GM foods. I'm sorry, but life isn't that simple." Of course, her words contradicted her elder brother's well known views on both subjects, and publication of our interview sparked a new debate around the world on the whole GMO issue. The issue has rumbled on all year. But by November ­ in another exclusive interview for The Grocer ­ Monsanto's agricultural chief Hugh Grant was adamant GMOs were moving off the agenda. And he added: "I'm confident that if there had been a health issue, we would have heard about it by now". Organics was the other food topic ­ and Prince Charles' hobbyhorse ­ that was never far from the headlines. But if 1999 was the year in which consumers embraced organics as the cure for all the food industry's ills, 2000 was the year in which there was a more balanced debate about the pros and cons of organics. That didn't stop retailers rushing to provide as many organic lines as possible. Sainsbury amassed 1,000 organic items and Tesco 750. Nisa too expanded its range. In June Iceland pledged to turn all its frozen veg organic ­ but was heavily criticised for offering the products at the same price as conventional lines. That didn't stop others from doing the same. But the organics lobby reserved some of its most fierce criticism for Professor Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Authority, who came under attack for declaring that organics were "not necessarily better for you". The FSA was finally launched in April and Krebs pledged it would be open and transparent. Speaking at a seminar organised by The Grocer, he tried to reassure the industry: "Our philosophy is to work with and not against the industry to achieve win:win solutions to benefit consumers and industry." The FSA was busy from day one ­ no more so than on the BSE issue. By the end of the year BSE had become a pan-European problem as France discovered infected beef in its food chain. As more cases of new variant CJD emerged in Britain, BSE remained the industry's biggest nightmare. But the Phillips report on the scandal did little to clear the air. It merely criticised Tory ministers and MAFF and MLC officials for a "lack of rigour". {{NEWS }}