GM feed ban dissolves, except at Waitrose

May 2013

Photo by Greenpeace
In early April, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, the Co-op, and Tesco all announced they will no longer require that farm animals in their supply chain are fed a non-GM diet. This orchestrated action follows on from previous one-man-stands by ASDA (owned by US retail giant Walmart) in 2010 and Morrisons in 2012.

The reason given for this move is that there is a shortage of non-GM soya.

Retailers seem to have been panicked by the action of one large supplier of non-GM soya, which informed them directly that it would no longer be supplying non-GM soya. Its reasons are not fully apparent. That was in December 2012. In February 2013, farmers' representatives (the National Farmers' Union, British Egg Industry Council, British Poultry Council) made a direct appeal to the supermarkets to lift their ban on GM-feed citing shortage and cost.

This 'shortage', however, can't be quite what it seems. Brazil has just had a record harvest of soya, of which about 25% is non-GM. ABRANGE, the Brazilian Association of Non-GM grain producers, has pointed out what's behind this 'shortage' myth.

Brazil is experiencing a boom in all its exports, with the result that its export infrastructure is log-jammed. Ships are taking 30-40 days just to dock and load. There's a consequent temporary increase in the cost of all soya.

Then, there's the UK's failure to diversify it's suppliers of non-GM soya: withdrawal by a single company is being allowed to compromise the quality of our food.

ABRANGE further suggests that 
 “Considering national affiliations, this (lifting of the ban on GM-feed) could well have as much to do with interest in opening the UK to imports of GM soy from the USA than to the temporary slow down in Brazil.”
At the same time as UK food retailers have been persuaded that they have to sell GM-fed animal products, much of the rest of the world is going in the opposite direction: there's an increasing demand for non-GM soya by mainland Europe retailers; the vast Chinese market is preparing to source non-GM feed for those who want it; increasing evidence is emerging that European livestock are being harmed by GM feed (see DANISH PIG FARMER WHISTLE-BLOWER - May 2012). Also, while GM-free labelling is on the increase in Europe and the vast majority of the UK public have repeatedly demanded it, we continue to be kept in the dark.


What's going on here? Only the UK seems to have 'found' a non-GM supply problem. Our major food retailers are in cahoots to force their customers to buy something they don't want. Farmers' leaders are in cahoots to persuade supermarkets to buy produce their customers don't want. No one's daring to put an honest label on anything.

The tactics, timing and synchrony are suggestive of a master-mind in action. Is this another chapter in the Westminster/Paterson plot to force GM food and feed on Britain? (See WHEN NON-NEWS IS BAD NEWS - April 2013)

Here's a message from GM Watch:
“It's important that these supermarkets get very clear feedback on their change of policy so please send a quick email to the UK supermarkets, telling them what you think. All it needs is sentence or two, and your own words are best ...”

Action is very important:

1. Tell supermarkets what you think -

You can mention, for example
  • how dismayed you are at the breach of your trust
  • that major European companies like Carrefour and Compina, the Chinese, Norwegians, Austrians, Swiss etc. are ordering non-GM fed animal supplies for customers
  • and urge the supermarket to ensure orders for non-GM feed supplies are placed.
(Contact information for all major UK supermarkets is available at GM Freeze)

2. Congratulate Waitrose.

Since Waitrose is the only supermarket actively seeking to exclude GM animal feed from its product supply chains, write and ask it to keep up the good work.

  • Sean Poulter, Farmers push to lift supermarkets' ban on GM-fed hens as they argue conventional feeds are too expensive, Dai ly Mail, 18.02.13
  • Tell UK supermarkets what you think,, 14.04.13
  • Soil Association comment: M&S, Sainsbury's, Co0-Op, and Tesco GM animal feed, Soil Association, 12.04.13
  • Helen Wallace, GM feed for chickens: Will Tesco listen to its customers? Public Service Europe, 12.04.13
  • UK supermarkets abandon non-GM feed policies, GM Freeze, 23.04.13
  • China moves to source GM-free soya supplies: why will Tesco not do the same in Britain? Gene Watch Press Release, 23.04.13
  • United Kingdom Retailers Abandon Non-GMO Soy, AGRANGE, 16.04.13

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