Greenpeace UK today launched a new online consumer guide to help shoppers find out whether the foods they are buying are really non-GM. The guide covers a wide range of food, including top brands as well as supermarket own brands. It highlights whether companies have a policy of avoiding derivatives of GM crops, such as GM soya oil, and whether their dairy and meat products come from animals fed on genetically modified crops.

The guide is launched as new evidence raises questions about the advisability of feeding animals with GM crops. Recent studies reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs (ACAF) found that, contrary to their expectations, DNA from plants survives feed processing and shows up in animal feed. Scientists on the Committee 'expressed surprise' and called for more studies to follow up the findings (1).

This finding contradicts advice given to Ministers and statements issued by companies. Both have said that no scientific evidence exists that DNA would survive feed processing and so go on to affect animal health or product safety (2a and b).

Andy Tait of Greenpeace said, "It is beyond belief that, even in the wake of the BSE crisis, comprehensive and independent research into the potential for GM to survive feed processing and cross into the guts of animals was not done before these crops were allowed to market".

"Greenpeace is campaigning to stop the importation of GM crops from the U.S for use in animal feed. Forcing unlabelled and inadequately tested GM feed on to farmers and consumers is completely irresponsible".

Outlining the new 'Greenpeace Consumer Guide to GM' Emma Gibson of Greenpeace explained, "At the moment, people who don't want GM in the foodchain, because of ethical, environmental or health concerns, simply can't tell if they are being fed GM derivatives, or if GM crops are being used to feed the animals that produce their eggs, cheese and meat".

"That is why we have launched this guide. It will expose the GM, which is being hidden from us, and provide advice for people who want to avoid it. The public have a right to know and the right to say no to GM."

A recent NOP poll commissioned by Greenpeace this September found that more than two thirds of the British public didn't want farm animals to be fed GM crops. An overwhelming 90% wanted products from animals fed on GM crops to be clearly labelled.

Yet despite this, GM soya and maize are still being imported to the UK most of which goes straight into animal feed. This is then sold on, unlabelled, to farmers and can constitute up to 30% of the diet of animals that produce our milk, cheese, eggs, fish and meat.

Iceland Managing Director Russell Ford expressed his support for the guide, "Iceland own brand poultry and eggs are fed a non-GM diet and we recently announced that we have extended this to livestock reared for primary meat production. I believe that this is the way the whole industry will be heading, but in the meantime this guide will help people who want to avoid GM."

Following Iceland's lead, major UK retailers including Tescos, Asda and Marks and Spencers, CWS/Coop and ALDI have told Greenpeace that they are committed to ensuring their meat and dairy products are not from animals fed GM animal crops.

Retailers across Europe are also moving to exclude GM fed animal products from their ranges. This weekend two of Belgium's major retailers - GM Group and Delhaize announced that they are going totally non-GM in their production. Carrefour, Europe's largest retailer has also announced that they have gone non-GM in animal feed.

The Greenpeace guide is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every food product that you can buy but codes most of the major brands red, yellow or green so that you can choose to buy or avoid their products if you want to eat non-GM food. A company will be branded red if any of its products involve the use of GM material. If a red list company has some products that they can guarantee are non-GM, Greenpeace has tried to include these on the green product list.

People with internet access will be able to visit a virtual supermarket through the Greenpeace website They can then choose a virtual shopping aisle such as dairy or frozen foods to get lists of relevant products and their GM status. Free printed copies of the webguide are also available, to receive one send a 31p A4 SAE to Shoppers Guide, Greenpeace, Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN.

The website will also host occasional features. For instance, as Christmas approaches there will be a feature on how to buy GM free turkeys, while for parents there will be a feature on the GM status of different baby food brands.

For more information go to the Greenpeace UK website at or call the Greenpeace press office on +0044 0207 865 8255/6/7, pager 01399 787076.

(1) Draft minutes of Advisory Committee on Animal Feeds (ACAF) meeting of 27 June 2000.

18. The Committee was informed that a key question in assessing new genetically modified crops was whether it was possible for novel genetic material present in animal feed materials to transfer to bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract of animals fed such material. A number of steps must occur in order for foreign DNA to transfer from animal feed and become expressed in a bacterium and the first step was that feed material must contain fragments of DNA large enough to contain the potentially functional gene. This research project therefore looked at the effects of commercial processing on the integrity of DNA.

19.The results indicated that DNA fragments large enough to contain potentially functional genes survived processing in many of the samples studied but there was a greater degree of fragmentation when processing was more extensive. However, the results varied considerably between different feed materials, and even between different samples of the same material. The Committee expressed surprise that so much DNA survived processing but considered that the key issue was what effect these fragments of DNA had on animals' fed on them. All animals normally consume significant amounts of intact DNA in their feed without adverse consequences. Attention was drawn to the study on GM plant material fed to broilers proposed at the joint ACAF/ACNFP meeting on 1 December 1999. It was thought that this study could shed more light on this issue and the Committee asked to be informed of the results.

(2) 2 Dec 1999 : Column: 334W

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what evidence he has received as to whether transgenic plant DNA is broken down in commercial processing and treatments in animal feed. [100167]

Ms Quin (Deputy Agriculture Minister): Ministry-funded work has confirmed that DNA is degraded during the processing of most animal feed materials. For example, extracting oil from oilseeds caused complete degradation of the DNA in the by-products. This work, and a further current study, has concerned commercially available feed ingredients as an indicator of what would happen to transgenic plant material.

(2b) The National Dairy Council in a letter dated 13 July, 2000 stated 'There is no scientific evidence to suggest that genetically modified material survives animal feed processing, crosses the gut wall of a cow and then becomes incorporated into milk'. (their emphasis). Greenpeace has relevant statements from companies, available on request.

The shoppers guide goes live on the website on Monday October 16th. For more information about the guide and advice on which products are fully GM free in advance of this date contact the press office.