Confusion over GM-free soya availability

DEBATE CONTINUES to rage over whether there is enough GM-free soya available for the UK’s poultry market.


Earlier this week, four leading supermarkets announced that they have removed requirements for their poultry suppliers to use only GM-free feed, largely in the form of soya. They claimed that the availability of non-GM soya was much-reduced and that contamination of supplies had become a concern. Some have claimed that GM soya is also more sustainable.


Organic groups condemned the changes in policy – which date back almost 12 years. The Soil Association said that “in Brazil alone, there is enough non-GM animal feed to supply the whole of Europe”.


There have been further claims that the supermarkets have been mislead in terms of availability. The Brazilian Association of Non-GM Grain Producers (Abrange) said Brazil had “enjoyed a record soybean harvest of over 82m tonnes, large enough to more than provide Europe’s entire soy meal demand”. Farmers Weekly reported that Abrange estimated that of this 82m tonnes, non-GMO soya makes up around quarter (25%). The Abrange statement also suggested that the changes could have something to do with a desire to open Europe to GM soya from US, rather than a decrease in available GM-free supplies from Brazil.


However, figures from Celeres, which provides data to the Brazilian government, suggests that 89% of the 2012/13 Brazilian crop is now GM, leaving 11% as GM-free.


The NFU’s chief poultry advisor, Kelly Watson, said the tonnage of GM now “swamps” non-GM “so that the likelihood of accidental GM presence is much greater and the export facilities for segregating product have not increased in proportion to the crop”.


At the recent Footprint Forum, the NFU called on other retailers to follow the decisions made by Asda and Morrisons in recent years to allow poultry farmers to use GM soya.


Waitrose is now the only major UK supermarket to now allow the use of GM soya for poultry.