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GE Feed Ban by EU Grocers Threatens US Grain Exports

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1. NOP poll on GM animal feed:
*67 per cent of Britons want a ban on GM crops being fed to livestock
*55 per cent don't want to eat meat, eggs or dairy products from animals
that have eaten GM
*90 per cent said any products from animals that had been GM-fed should
be labelled as such

"The supermarkets are stampeding to get out before the public cottons on
to what is going on."
---
Independent on Sunday
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/Environment/2000-09/gmban240900.shtml

New blow to GM as big stores extend their ban

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
24 September 2000

Supermarket chains are striking a potentially fatal blow at GM food in
Britain by refusing to sell meat, eggs and dairy products from animals
fed on modified crops.

The development slashes the crops' biggest remaining market and marks
another severe blow for the biotech industry, following Greenpeace's
surprise court victory last week.

Twenty-eight Greenpeace supporters, led by Lord Melchett, were found not
guilty of causing criminal damage after they destroyed part of an
experimental crop of GM maize in Norfolk earlier this year.

It also coincides with an opinion poll which shows that more than
two-thirds of Britons believe that GM crops should be banned from animal
feed.

While the main supermarket and food manufacturers have already banned
the direct use of GM crops in their own breads, cakes, ice cream and
other products, until now they have been willing to sell meat and dairy
products from animals fed on them.

But an internal report from the US government shows that exports of
American soya beans to Britain have fallen by more than half in the last
two years and are continuing to fall.

The report, by the US Department of Agriculture, blames "the hysteria
surrounding genetically engineered (GE) food" in Britain for the
decline. It adds: "Supermarkets are becoming increasingly keen to ensure
that livestock is fed GE-free rations, threatening the multi-million
dollar US soybean export trade with the UK."

Greenpeace has received commitments from most supermarkets to phase out
GM-fed meat.

As the table below shows, different chains are at different stages in
the process, but almost all have at least begun it. The furthest
advanced is Iceland, which two years ago was the first to remove GM
ingredients from its products. Earlier this year it announced that all
its "livestock for meat production would be reared on a non-GM diet"
from then on.

Iceland took the unusual step for a supermarket chain of buying 6,000
tons of non-GM soya earlier this year to help its suppliers make the
conversion and says customers will not be paying any more as a result of
it.

Asda, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and CWS/Co-op all say that they are
planning to eliminate GM-fed meat as soon as possible, and other chains
are at least investigating banning it or introducing some non-GM fed
products. Only Somerfield says its policy is currently to allow the use
of genetically modified crops as animal feed, although already one of
its suppliers is avoiding them.

Greenpeace admits that there are no known health risks to people from
meat reared on GM crops. But it is aiming to stop their release into the
environment and its campaign is aimed at "closing down the market" for
them in Britain. Blake Lee-Harwood, the group's communications director,
said last week: "The supermarkets are stampeding to get out before the
public cottons on to what is going on."

An NOP poll commissioned by the pressure group shows that 67 per cent of
Britons want a ban on GM crops being fed to livestock, and that 55 per
cent do not want to eat meat, eggs or dairy products from animals that
have eaten them. Ninety per cent of respondents said that any products
from animals that had been GM-fed should be labelled as such.
---
Sunday Telegraph

Sunday 24 September 2000

GM crops risk is too great, says Melchett

By David Harrison

LORD MELCHETT, the Norfolk farmer and executive director of Greenpeace,
said yesterday that the court decision to clear him, and 27 other
campaigners, of causing criminal damage in an attack on a GM trial farm
was "a victory for farmers all over Britain".

In his first interview since the verdict last Wednesday, Lord Melchett
told The Telegraph: "I care about farming and the countryside. Our
battle against GM crops is a fight for the future of British farming.
"The public doesn't want GM food, the supermarkets don't want it, and no
farmer wants to grow things that nobody wants to buy. GM crops should
now be consigned to the dustbin of history as a technology that went
wrong."

The peer said: "The trial was a very frightening experience. Nobody
wants a criminal conviction. I was surprised by the verdict. It was not
what the establishment had wanted but that's the beauty of trial by
jury." The 28 campaigners, including a housewife, a grandfather, a
Baptist minister and 12 members of Greenpeace, had admitted destroying
six acres of GM maize at a farm at Lyng, near Norwich, in April 1999.

The activists were confronted by the farm's owners and arrested when
police were called to the scene and Lord Melchett spent two nights in
jail. All the protesters were cleared of theft at Norfolk Crown Court in
April and of causing criminal damage last week.

The National Farmers' Union described the verdict as "perverse" and
said it "gave a green light to wanton vandalism and trespass on British
farmland", but Lord Melchett, speaking at Greenpeace's headquarters in
north London yesterday, was unrepentant. He said: "The jury found that
we did not commit a criminal offence.

"They were 12 members of the public who listened to fiercely-contested
arguments over two and a half weeks, away from all the propaganda. Their
verdict was unanimous. They decided we were right to do what we did.
This is an extremely serious issue. We did not undertake our action
lightly but we felt we had to do something and we have been vindicated."

The hereditary peer, an Old Etonian and former Labour minister, admitted
that the verdict could lead to more attacks on GM trial crops.
Greenpeace had "no plans" for more action, he said, but he was "not
ruling out" raids in the future. The NFU has called on the Government to
offer improved protection to farmers taking part in the trials, but Lord
Melchett insisted that the protests were non-violent and posed "no
threat" to farmers.

He said that Greenpeace's action was justified because contamination
from genetically modified crops posed an "extremely serious" threat to
public health and the environment. He said: "We cannot just release
these things into the environment because once they are out there they
cannot be brought back.

"It's not like clearing up oil or nuclear waste. We don't know what
effects they will have and that is a risk we cannot afford to take."
The Government insists that the trials will go ahead. But Lord Melchett
said that many farmers who agreed to make land available for GM crop
trials have now pulled out and there are doubts over whether the
Government will have enough sites to make future tests scientifically
valid.

He said: "That is a terrible indictment of the trials. Farmers are
having a tough time at the moment and yet even the offer of up to £300
an acre to plant GM crops has failed to attract enough takers. The
Government should have consulted the agricultural community before the
trials. Farmers would have told them that contamination spreads easily
and quickly in the countryside - on the wind, on tractor wheels, on
boots . . . Anybody who knows anything about farming would agree with
that."

The peer also rejected the "feed the world" argument that GM crops could
solve the problem of famine in developing countries. He said: "Some of
the biggest anti-GM protests have been in India and other parts of Asia,
as well as in Mexico and Brazil. They don't want GM foods any more than
the British public."

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