Spiralling costs could end non-GM stance

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Related tags: Soybean

The supermarkets’ anti-GM stance is becoming increasingly unsustainable as the cost of keeping genetically-modified materials out of the food chain...

The supermarkets’ anti-GM stance is becoming increasingly unsustainable as the cost of keeping genetically-modified materials out of the food chain hits record highs, claimed a new report.

Retail bosses are understood to be looking for a way to drop their trenchant GM-free policy, with one source expecting retailers and manufacturers to “quietly start removing non-GM claims and revising buying specifications”

The availability of non-GM soybeans and derivatives from Brazil – the major source – was likely to decline significantly in the next 12 months as farmers switched to GM varieties, predicted The Global GM Market: Implications for the European Food Chain report commissioned by Agricultural Biotechnology in Europe.

Identity-preserved non-GM soy could command a 25% premium over GM soy soon, bumping up the cost of GM-free animal feed and hitting processors, said the report.

Co-author Neville Craddock said it was difficult, if not impossible, to make some products without GM-derived ingredients, which did not generally have to be included on labels. “There are a number of ingredients used in food and feed products that are derived using enzymes and fermentation technology based on GM micro-organisms (GMMOs). Any move to avoid the use of such ingredients, will probably be undeliverable in the short term because of the dominance of GMMO-based production methods.”

Food and Drink Federation president Gavin Neath said: “It used to be that only US crops were an issue, but GM planting is so widespread now that even Brazil is increasingly a no-go area if you’re looking for non-GM. On a labelling front, it’s also increasingly hard for people to make categoric statements about GM content.”