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Tesco drops 11-year ban on GM chicken feed / Take action

Tesco drops 11-year ban on GM chicken feed / Take action

1. GM feed for chickens: Will Tesco listen to its customers?
2. Tesco drops 11-year ban on eggs from chickens fed on GM soya diet as it blames farmers and suppliers for the decision
3. Consumers don't trust supermarkets on GM food, poll finds

NOTE: You can easily send a letter with just one click to all the main UK supermarkets.

Let them know you do not want meat, dairy and eggs from animals reared on GM feed:
https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=589

Please forward to all your friends and family.
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1. GM feed for chickens: Will Tesco listen to its customers?
by Helen Wallace
Public Service Europe, 12 Apr 2013
http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/3322/gm-feed-for-chickens-wil%20l-tesco-listen-to-its-customers

Whether easily available GM-free fed meat and dairy supplies remain will depend on how consumers react to Tesco's decision and whether the supermarket is ready to listen to its customers – says campaigner

The British supermarket store Tesco has announced that its own-label fresh and frozen poultry and eggs will in future be fed with genetically modified soya made by Monsanto. The soya, which is grown in North America and South America, is resistant to the weedkiller glyphosate - which Monsanto sells under the brand-name RoundUp. Tesco's decision reverses a ban in place for 11 years and flies in the face of recent research by the Food Standards Agency. The research found that two thirds of United Kingdom consumers want labelling of animal products, if GM feed has been used in their production.

To justify its decision, Tesco published a statement. This has been criticised for misleading consumers. In it, the supermarket claims that GM soya is resistant to pests and diseases; and that there is a shortage of non-GM soya. Both these claims are, in my opinion, untrue - GM soya is resistant to weedkillers and plenty of non-GM soya is grown in Brazil.

And GM soya has been genetically engineered by Monsanto to be tolerant to RoundUp, so that spraying kills weeds but not the crop. In recent years, GM crops have led to widespread problems in North and South America because 'superweeds' have become resistant due to blanket spraying. There are also concerns that aerial spraying harms the health of local people living near the fields and that high residues of the herbicide remain on the crop when it is harvested. Recently, scientists have [reported] a major decline in the Monarch butterfly population in the United States to the loss of agricultural milkweeds where they lay their eggs. Loss of weed habitats for wildlife is associated with increased blanket use of weedkillers on GM maize and soya.

Several US farmers have spoken out to highlight the problem of superweeds and expressed concerns that they could no longer buy high yielding varieties of non-GM seeds because a small number of multinational companies now have monopoly control over the seed market. Non-GM farmers also risk threats of legal action over patents as they are deemed to have stolen Monsanto's intellectual property - if GM crops are found growing on their land, even if their spread is accidental.

Nearly half of all American farms now have superweeds and the industry response is to promote 'next generation' herbicide-resistant seeds. These are crops engineered to resist not just Roundup but also other, more toxic weedkillers like 2,4-D and Dicamba. Public concerns about herbicide residues in the food chain are likely to increase even further once these products are on the market and begin to be shipped to feed animals in Britain. In reality, supplies are driven by demand and retailers' policies can make a difference. Major supermarket chains such as Carrefour in France now sell products labelled 'free from GM feed', the German government promotes a GM-free labelling scheme and retailers in Sweden have banned the use of GM animal feed entirely.

In Britain, consumers who want to avoid GM-fed chicken and eggs can still shop in the Co-Op, Lidl, Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose or buy organic products. But the danger is that Tesco's decision, following Morrison and Asda, will become a self-fulfilling prophecy because without retailer demand companies shipping GM soya into Britain will no longer bother to segregate GM and non-GM supplies. Whether easily available GM-free fed meat and dairy supplies remain will depend on how consumers react to Tesco's decision and whether the supermarket is ready to listen to its customers.

Dr Helen Wallace is director of the GeneWatch UK campaign Group
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2. Tesco drops 11-year ban on eggs from chickens fed on GM soya diet as it blames farmers and suppliers for the decision
By Sean Poulter
11 April 2013
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2307595/Tesco-drops-11-year-ban-eggs-chickens-fed-GM-soya-diet-blames-farmers-suppliers-decision.html

*Controls were put in place in order to reflect concerns of shoppers
*Tesco claims U-turn was dictated by its farmers and their suppliers
*No products from birds given GM diet will be labelled as being so

The next time you buy chicken or eggs from Tesco, they may come from birds fed genetically modified soya.

The supermarket chain yesterday abandoned its 11-year commitment not to sell poultry reared on the controversial GM feed.

The original controls were put in place to reflect the concerns of shoppers, who question the impact of GM crops on human health and the countryside.

Tesco, Britain’s biggest seller of fresh chicken and eggs, claims the U-turn has been prompted by its farmers and their suppliers, who say they are finding it increasingly difficult to source non-GM soya.

This suggests the diet of families in the UK is effectively being controlled by US biotech companies responsible for creating GM crops. None of the chicken or eggs produced from birds given this ‘Frankenstein food’ diet will be labelled as such, leaving customers in the dark.

Yet a survey conducted by the Government’s Food Standards Agency last year found two in three people believe meat, eggs and milk produced from animals given a GM diet should be labelled.

Peter Melchett is policy director at the Soil Association, which supports organic farming.

He accused Tesco of ignoring the wishes of customers and said it was simply wrong to claim it was difficult to get non-GM feed.

"Tesco are ignoring the overwhelming majority of the British people," he said. "Shamefully, Tesco are planning to keep their use of GM feed secret from their customers."

He added: "Tesco are also wrong about the availability of non-GM animal feed. They have swallowed the line being pedalled by multi-national, industrial farming companies that non-GM feed is getting scarcer. In fact, in Brazil alone, there is enough non-GM animal feed to supply the whole of Europe."

There is some dispute as to whether animals fed a GM diet are changed as a result. The Food Standards Agency says that the DNA from GM soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it, nor in products such as eggs or milk.

But critics claim scientists have shown that fragments of genetically modified DNA, at least, are present in the resulting food.

Tesco’s announcement came from group technical director, Tim Smith, who was chief executive at the FSA during a period when it was perceived as being pro-GM.

The store said customers who want to guarantee meat and eggs from animals given a non-GM diet can choose to buy organic.

Mr Smith wrote on the Tesco website yesterday: ‘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, for two reasons. First, soya is the best source of protein to feed livestock.

"And as soya producers are increasingly turning to GM soya, it means they are producing less non-GM soya, so there simply isn’t enough non-GM feed available. We could not continue with a promise we cannot be sure it is possible to keep and we want to be up-front about the changes we are making."

Morrisons and Asda have already dropped their own bans on GM feed. Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s are still refusing to use GM for their chickens.

Last night Tesco insisted that it takes full responsibility for lifting the ban. A spokesman said: "This is our decision, made after consulting suppliers. We are not blaming suppliers or farmers."
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3. Consumers don't trust supermarkets on GM food, poll finds
by Ian Quinn
The Grocer, 12 Apr 2013
Copyright-protected article. Read the full article here:
http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/topics/consumers-dont-trust-supermarkets-on-gm-food-poll-finds/238401.article?redirCanon=1

An exclusive poll for The Grocer reveals nearly three quarters of consumers do not trust supermarkets to tell the truth about the use of technology to genetically modify food.