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Tesco Statements on Non-GM Poultry Feed Inaccurate and Misleading

Immediate release (11 Apr 2013)

Calls to: Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze today challenged assertions made by Tesco in regard to the supply of non-GM soya for poultry feed. The organisation says certain statements are inaccurate and will mislead customers. [1]

Three contentious claims are:

1) There simply isn’t enough non-GM feed available.

Current information from non-GM soya producers in Brazil (the main source of non-GM soya for animal feed) indicates that non-GM soya production in Brazil is 20.8 million tonnes from 9 states, but only 11.7 million tonnes are certified non-GM. This means over 25% of the total crop is non-GM, an adequate amount to meet EU requirements. If Tesco is proactive in the market it could source non-GM feed and deliver what its customers want. [2]

2) DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it.

This statement contradicts the latest advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which states:

It is therefore possible that DNA fragments derived from GM plant materials may occasionally be detected in animal tissues, in the same way that DNA fragments derived from non-GM plant materials can be detected in these same tissues. [3]

Indeed 2012 statements reporting on EU funded research went further than this:

There are also indications showing that genes from Bt (unique to Bt maize for example) can be found in the blood, and also the proteins and antibodies against those proteins can be found in the blood of animal that have eaten this. That means there are components that can be transferred from the food/feed to the body and then maybe further on to the next level that is eating this. [4]

3) Farmers across the world choose to grow modified soya for a number of reasons, usually because modified crops are more resistant to certain pests and diseases.

The only GM soya commercially cultivated anywhere in the world is either herbicide tolerant or has altered oil composition. Even according to pro-GM industry data there are no disease resistant or insect resistant GM soya varieties available to farmers. [5]

In other EU countries major companies, such as the dairy company Campina, have pursued a “no biotech” policy on animal feed since 2009, and the French supermarket giant Carrefour launched a similar policy in 2010. [6] Recent research by the FSA showed two thirds of UK consumers want labelling of animal products to indicate the use of GM feed. [7] Tesco‘s statement made no such undertaking and therefore GM fed poultry will not be labelled.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

Tesco has badly let down its customers by changing its policy on GM in poultry feed. For the last decade or more it could have invested money in securing non-GM soya supplies, as Carrefour has done in France, but instead it has ignored its customers’ concerns.

Tesco then adds insult to injury by issuing a misleading and inaccurate statement in an attempt to justify its decision.

A big company like Tesco could and should be able to source non-GM animal feed through established certification routes from Brazil and label its products as non-GM fed.

Tesco’s judgment on investment has been questioned by shareholders following its unsuccessful attempts to gain footholds in the US and Japanese markets, and the decision to support GM production could be as damaging to consumer confidence.

ENDs

Notes

[1] Tesco, 11 April 2013. “An update on poultry feed

[2] Information from Brazilian non-GM soya supplier IMCOPA. Copy available on request.

[3] Food Standards Agency, 6 December 2012. “GM material in animal feed

[4] Statement by Professor Ashild Krogdahl of the Norwegian Veterinary School at a press conference following the GMSAFood Project conference, 6May 2012. See www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nYiRJS-CZM

[5] See ISAAA database search at www.isaaa.org/gmapprovaldatabase/advsearch/default.asp?CropID=19&TraitTypeID=Any&DeveloperID=Any&CountryID=Any&ApprovalTypeID=3

[6] Just Food, 25 October 2010. “FRANCE: Carrefour launches ‘non-GM’ labels

[7] Food Standards Agency, 9 January 2013. GM Labelling: Exploring public responses to the labelling of GM food and the use of GM-free labelling