Supermarkets caught up in GM label row

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Supermarkets have been accused of misleading consumers by not labelling food produced from genetically modified crops.

A major investigation has found that the majority of milk, dairy and pork products sold in UK supermarkets are being produced from animals fed on GM crops.

While UK supermarkets have removed many products made directly with GM ingredients they continue to allow the use of GM animal feed. There is no mandatory requirement on them to label food produced from GM-fed animals.

The Soil Association, which conducted the investigation, said it was tantamount to a "GM stealth invasion of the UK food-chain". It said consumers were being denied their right to make a fully informed buying decision.

Around 60 per cent of the maize and 30 per cent of the soya fed to dairy cattle and pigs is GM. In addition around a third of eggs are from GM-fed hens.
Soil Association director Patrick Holden said supermarkets were guilty of deceiving consumers.

“This is not just accidental contamination, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of GM grain are being used to produce our food each year. Biotechnology companies have clearly used imported animal feed as a Trojan Horse to introduce GM into the UK food chain, despite the fact that the British public have voted overwhelmingly against GM.

“We urge the public to only buy meat and dairy that is known to be produced from non-GM fed animals, and to write to the supermarkets and ask them to stop allowing the use of GM feed. All retailers and food sectors should follow their lead. We also call on the supermarkets to label these products so they are being honest with their customers,” added Mr Holden.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007