German retailers demand GM-free poultry feed

Germany’s major supermarkets have demanded that their suppliers return to using non-genetically modified feed for poultry production.

UK Farmers Weekly, 5 September 2014

On Thursday, a number of German supermarkets grouped together to demand that the German Poultry Association (ZDG) stop using feed containing GM material for both egg and poultry meat production. Retailers want their suppliers to return to sourcing GM-free feed from January 1st 2015.

ZDG announced in February that it would no longer require members to use GM-free feed, abandoning a commitment it had held for over ten years. Similar moves were also made by producers in the UK and Denmark last year. Groups in these countries claimed that not enough GM-free feed was available. However, at the time GM-free soya exporters from Brazil and certification bodies within Europe contested the claims.

German retailers said this week that, after opening up a dialogue with Brazilian officials, they are convinced that ZDG’s arguments do not stand up to scrutiny. The industry group has retracted its claims on GM-free feed made in February; it has formed a working group and entered into talks with supermarkets.

However, German Poultry Association CEO Thomas Janning told the German press that ZFG does not agree with the supermarkets’ proposed start date for a return to conventional feed, and wants the issue to be discussed with retailers in an unprejudiced manner. Janning told the German press “We will not be blackmailed” but added that “We are not categorically against” a return to conventional feed.

In the UK, where a number of major supermarkets have abandoned pledges to ensure their suppliers source GM-free feed, an investigation by the Food Standards Agency published last year revealed that over two thirds of consumers in the UK want GM labelling extended to include meat and other products from animals fed GM feed.

The mass shift in sourcing policy by UK supermarkets in spring 2013 was precipitated by sustained lobbying from groups including the British Poultry Council and NFU, which began early last year.

Global GMO Free Coalition Coordinator Henry Rowlands commented on talks between retailers and the Poultry Association on Friday, “The wool has been pulled over the eyes of retailers across Europe by the GMO industry over the past year. We welcome the news that they have started to fight back in the interest of their customers, who do not want to buy GM-fed eggs and meat.”


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