Retailers will not be selling genetically modified foods for the foreseeable future and have the support of the government and DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett.

The UK’s supermarket chiefs met with government ministers and told them that there was no point in producing and selling genetically-modified produce while there is no consumer demand.

A report by the Food Standards Agency showed that the public were concerned about the potential long-term health effects of eating GM foods. The FSA said that the BSE crisis had also left some people “with a distrust of scientists and government”.

Director of food policy at the British Retail Consortium, Richard Ali, said: "Our position remains unchanged. We are neutral on GM technology. But we provide what customers demand and they do not want GM food."

Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted to bring in stricter labelling on foods containing GM organisms. The changes will mean that food with 0.9% genetically-modified foods will have to be labelled, as opposed to the present 1% threshold.

Meanwhile, a new government report carried out to examine the costs and benefits of genetically-modified produce, said there were no clear immediate benefits to UK farming if GM crops are grown commercially.