October 21, 2003, Just-foot.com:
Never mind the hesitation of EU political leaders to accept GMO
foods, a giant food grower and retailer has made a market-driven
decision to just say no.
At 80,000 acres, the Co-operative Group is Britain's biggest farmer.
It announced recently it will reject any government proposals that
allow the commercial planting of genetically modified crops in the
The consumer-owned business, which sells £5bn (US$8.4 billion)
worth of food annually through its supermarkets and convenience
stores and farms 85,000 acres of land, has also imposed its own
GM ban across its businesses.
The Co-op said it will refuse to grow GM crops on its own land,
sell GM food under its own brand and invest its Co-op Bank customers'
money in GM technology.
The move follows an NOP World survey of Co-op customers and members
which found that 55% of people were against GM with 38% yet to be
convinced of its benefits. The survey found that 79% of those surveyed
would not knowingly buy food containing GM ingredients, while 62%
would not eat GM food even if it was proved safe to eat.
"We have listened to the experts on both sides of the debate.
We have consulted our customers and members and evaluated available
evidence. But, on the strength of current scientific knowledge,
and the overwhelming opposition of our members, the Co-op is saying
no to the commercial growing of GM crops in the UK," said Martin
Beaumont, chief executive of the Co-operative Group.