April 15, 2013

Tesco to allow GM soy in poultry feed


Buoyed by the shift of soy producers to GM soy resulting in the shortage of non-GM feed, Tesco is now removing the GM-free guarantee for their poultry and egg products for it is no longer possible to guarantee that feed is entirely GM-free.


Over recent weeks UK poultry and egg suppliers have been telling retailers that it is increasingly difficult for them to guarantee that the feed they use is entirely GM free.


Tim J. Smith, Tesco group technical director, said that soy is the best source of protein for livestock and as soy producers are increasingly turning to GM soy, it means they are producing less non-GM soya. Therefore, there is a shortage of non-GM feed, causing a supply issue on a global scale.


Smith said that over 80% of the world's soy is now modified and that farmers worldwide are opting for modified soy mainly because modified crops are more resistant to certain pests and diseases.


He added that because so much soy is modified and because of the way crops are planted, processed and transported, it is likely that non-GM soy crops contain low levels of GM soy. The new DNA testing regime that Tesco has put in place has identified that the risk of finding GM material in non-GM feed is increasing.


"We could not continue with a promise we cannot be sure it is possible to keep and we want to be upfront about the changes we are making," Smith said.


He stressed that just because the feed ingredient in which poultry meat is genetically modified, it does not mean that the poultry and eggs Tesco sells will be genetically modified in any way.


The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has made it clear that genetic modification affects only the crop used in the feed, and the DNA from GM soy is not present in the meat of animals, nor in animal products such as eggs or milk.


The FSA is also clear that there is no risk to health from eating meat from animals that have been fed GM feed. In fact, meat products from animals fed on GM crops have been a standard part of many supermarket ranges for some time.


Smith said, "We want to be clear with customers about food and that's why we are removing the GM-free guarantee for poultry and eggs. We are not the first UK supermarket to reach the conclusion that a non-GM policy on poultry feed is unsustainable, and we will not be the last. Asda and Morrisons already allow GM feed for poultry products, and our suppliers also work with other UK retailers."


The poultry industry body in the UK, the British Poultry Council has commented on the news, telling ThePoultrySite, "GM crops are highly regulated in terms of health and environmental safety. They have been used in the UK to feed livestock, including poultry, destined for the retail supply chain around the world for the last 15 years.


"The availability of non-GM soy has reduced significantly in recent years as growers produce more GM varieties. The likelihood of accidental GM presence is much greater than ever before and so it is no longer possible to guarantee that feed is entirely GM-free."