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Major European retailers urge support of Brazilian non-GM soy

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

15-May-2013

The retailers have said they support continued, and even expanded, production of non-GM soy in Brazil
The retailers have said they support continued, and even expanded, production of non-GM soy in Brazil

Major retailers from five European countries have urged greater support of non-GM soy production in Brazil, as increased demand for genetically modified (GM) soy from China risks diminishing non-GM supply.

Brazil is the world’s biggest supplier of non-GM soy, but the percentage of Brazilian soybeans that are conventionally grown (non-GM) has been shrinking since 2005. Nevertheless, volumes of non-GM beans have increased.

Retailers including Germany’s Rewe Group, Edeka and Lidl, Spar Austria Group and Belgium’s Colruyt Group are among the signatories to the declaration, which pledges support for non-GM soy production in Brazil and highlights increased demand for certified non-GM foods.

The signatories pledged their full support of the continued, and even expanded, production of GMO-free soy in Brazil in order to provide European consumers with GMO-free food products, thereby giving them the option to exercise their right to individual food sovereignty.”

The declaration follows announcements from UK supermarket chains Sainsbury, Tesco, Asda, The Co-op, Marks & Spencer and Morrisons last month asserting that they could no longer guarantee that their poultry was fed on 100% GM-free feed.

President of The ProTerra Foundation, which administers a certification programme for non-GM soy, Augusto Freir, said: “In light of this declaration the UK retailers are in danger of being viewed as ‘backward-thinking’ on the issue.

“…The UK retailers’ claim that they cannot obtain sufficient non-GMO soy meal for animal feed is simply not defensible in terms of a sensible consumer oriented corporate policy.”

The Brazilian association of non-GMO grain producers and processors Abrange said in statement that it was ‘puzzled’ by the UK retailers’ announcements, saying that they had been misled about tight supply.

Abrange said that about a quarter of Brazil’s soy harvest was non-GM this year, but a port logistics problem had caused a temporary shortage.  

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