Thursday, August 19, 1999 Published at 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
M&S to remove GM products from animal feed
M&S says it is responding to pressure from customers
Marks & Spencer says it has become the first food retailer to remove genetically modified (GM) soya and maize ingredients from animal feed, a move that could force food prices higher by 15%.
Prices of meat, milk and eggs could rise by 10% to 15% from October, a move which will test public demand for non-GM food.
M&S said it was responding to customer pressure for choice when it comes to buying meat, milk and eggs and wanted to ensure that consumers could choose to consume livestock products from animals reared on non-GM diet.
Even if customers are willing to pay extra, some question how easy it is to be sure food is GM free. About two million tonnes of soya and of maize are imported mainly from the US, where GM and non-GM ingredients are mixed but Experts say it should still be possible to source non-GM animal feed.
"We have responded by changing the feed in the production of free range chicken, eggs and pork. Customers will be able to purchase these products from selected stores in October.
He added that all products within the existing M&S organic range were already produced without the use of GM feed.
Along with other major food retailers - including Tesco, Asda, Safeway and Sainsbury's - M&S has been working to remove all GM ingredients from its own-brand food range in response to consumer alarm about the introduction of controversial GM ingredients.
It announced last month that it had removed all GM ingredients and derivatives from the entire M&S food range.
Although the company said that it recognised the potential benefits of GM foods it remained sensitive to consumer concerns about the new technology.
Anti-GM campaigners happy
Welcoming the announcement anti-GM campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) said other food companies should now follow suit.
FoE's Adrian Bebb commented: "We are delighted that M&S are listening to its customers' concerns on this issue. Other food manufacturers must now follow suit and give the British public what they want.
"This move is a further blow to the Government which is continuing to promote GM crops despite the obvious fact that hardly anyone in the country wants them."