Various UK poultry organisations have formed a coalition and written to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) about the possibility of more GM feed being permitted in poultry diets.
In the poultry sector particularly, it is generally prohibited by retailers. The industry bodies, the NFU, British Egg Industry Council and the British Poultry Council argue non-GM soya is becoming increasingly difficult to source and say the costs of ensuring GM-free poultry diets is hurting producers.
A coalition of anti-GM campaigners, led by the Soil Association, however is urging supermarkets to reject industry calls to allow more GM protein in poultry feed, warning this would be a ‘serious mistake’.
The organisations claim, particularly if products were not labelled as being from animals fed GM crops, the move would ‘further undermine public trust in animal products sold by British supermarkets’.
In a letter, signed by Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett, it was claimed that a Defra and industry funded project has indicated that UK-grown peas and beans ‘could probably replace most if not all imported soya in chicken diets with little or no impact on production’.
An NFU spokesman said: “Farmers and growers need to have access to the best technologies and inputs to meet the considerable challenges of sustainable intensification, and to be resilient and profitable businesses in the global market. GM is just one tool being used by farmers around the world to do this.”