|Entrance to Morrisons. Photo by mattingham on Flickr|
The reasons it gives seem to be three-fold.
One, is that the move will take some pressure off farmers, by which Morrisons seems to mean the pressure of the higher cost of non-GM feed. As GM Freeze has pointed out, the supermarket's acceptance of cheaper feed is likely to lead to a drop in the price it will pay farmers rather than, as Morrisons hint, any benefit. Sceptics might suggest that the pressure on farmers is due to the supermarket's refusal to give them a fair price for their poultry products.
The second reason is that the move will help Morrisons keep prices down. To support its case, it (misleadingly) quotes a price premium on non-GM soya of 10-15%. This sounds like an awful lot until you realise that it refers only to the cost of the raw soya. Soya is only one third of the total ingredients in feed for laying hens, and the cost of the other feed materials plus that of turning it into chicken feed doesn't differ between GM and non-GM. GM Freeze has calculated that the use of non-GM soya adds 6p to the cost of producing a broiler chicken, and 3p to the cost of a dozen eggs. TraceConsult, a company which sources non-GM soya for the European market, also points out that the premium quoted by Morrisons is way out of date because the price of commodity (mainly GM) soya has “skyrocketed” recently while that of non-GM “has not changed one bit - and won't”.
The third reason is that the Company is concerned about the sustainability of present chicken feed supplies because of the impacts of soya-production on the natural environment. Apparently to plug this sustainability gap, Morrisons intends to promote the use of certified sustainable soya in its supply chain. By this it means, of course soya certified by the Round Table on Responsible Soya, RTRS (See below).
Round Table on Responsible Soya (RTRS)
The RTRS is a collaborative effort by all the big agribusiness players and “the largest, most trusted, and best-funded environmental 'protection' organization in the world”, the World Wildlife Fund (Ananda). It has devised a set of sustainability standards which unaccountably succeed in encompassing GM soya. The RTRS has now successfully persuaded EU regulators to embrace its certification scheme.
Critics consider the RTRS certificates a ploy to greenwash a very damaging GM crop. GM, 'Roundup Ready' soya is designed to accumulate Roundup herbicide which science is now showing to be an endocrine-, DNA- and cell-disruptor with wide-ranging side-effects. Roundup is also damaging to soil microbes and wildlife.
The World Wildlife Fund claims that the RTRS operates independently, but its actions suggest it is firmly tucked up in bed with the biotech and oil (GM bio-fuel) industries.
The National Farmers' Union has welcomed Morrisons move and “would like to see other supermarkets follow suit”. Sadly, it seems Morrisons is allowing itself to be a Trojan horse to promote market acceptance of RTRS certification. It simply is not possible for the current system of soya mass-production, now shored up by patented GM soya, to be sustainable or responsible: it requires huge tracts of land, displacing local farmers and destroying the ecosystem, it needs agri-chemical fertilizers, and pesticides, water, and extensive global transportation; it is used to feed animals and vehicles, not people.
Morrisons claims to be investigating alternative feed protein sources and home-grown soya.
(COMMENT This suggests supermarket bosses may be well aware that the credibility of the RTRS is in doubt, and the claim could be no more than a PR stunt.).
Importantly, GM Freeze has emphasized that supplies of non-GM soya will be maintained if supermarkets, like Morrisons, work with non-GM suppliers and ensure orders are in place. The RTRS seems to be a ruse, which Morrisons has fallen for, to suppress non-GM supplies.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
GM Freeze points out that:
“Other supermarkets are able to maintain their non-GM policy for feed, including in egg production. Marks & Spencer leads the way in providing meat and eggs from animals reared on non-GM diet, and unusually this includes M&S milk. Other retailers also ensure egg production is from non-GM fed animals, including The Coop, Tesco and Waitrose, which all maintain non-GM feed requirements for eggs ... If shoppers do not want to support the GM industry in their weekly shop there are plenty of other supermarkets to visit.”Tell Morrisons Head of Policy (David.FJ.Scott@morrisonsplc.co.uk) that:
- you deplore its use of the RTRS certification scheme as an excuse to sell you GM-fed animal produce
- you would like to know what exactly it is doing to move to alternative, home-grown animal feed
- you will not be shopping Morrisons until it re-instates its non-GM feed policy.
If you want more information on the absurdity of branding GM-soya animal feed 'responsible' or 'sustainable', check out the documentary at
For more information on the health risks surrounding the glyphosate herbicide which GM soya is doused with and which it accumulates, check out http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Morrisons_campaign_GM_feed.php
- Rady Ananda, WWR beds with Monsanto to steal public lands, promote GM crops, Living Green Magazine, 8.03.12
- Morrisons new offer: GM-fed eggs for Easter, GM Freeze Release, 4.04.12
- Tell Morrisons Not to Drop GM-free Poultry Policy, Institute of Science in Society Report, 2.04.12
- Tell Morrisons you're off, http://gmfreeze.webfactional.com/actions/27/, 30.03.12
- Morrisons Ignores Customers, Piles Pressure on Farmers, GM Freeze Press Release, 26.03.12
- Rhian Price, Morrisons drops GM-free poultry policy, Farmers Weekly, 22.03.12