Blog: GM in organic food - are you confused yet?

Catherine Sleep | 1 February 2006

Perception is everything when it comes to buying food, and a recent proposal from the EU has got organic food producers worried. The European Commission proposes to allow organic food to contain up to 0.9% genetically modified material, in an effort to “improve clarity for consumers and farmers”.

Which is odd, because I find the current organic standards that permit no more than 0.1% genetically modified ingredients pretty clear. The waters would be considerably murkier in a world where nearly 1% of an organic product might, or might not, be genetically modified.

Let me put the issue into context for readers in markets whose shoppers munch away happily on GM food. You know who you are. Scientists may be coming round to accepting genetic modification but many consumers are still highly sceptical, particularly in Europe and the Antipodes. In order to win organic certification from the UK’s Soil Association, for example, farmers must guarantee that their produce is 100% GM-free.

Rightly or wrongly, anti-GM sentiment is a key factor driving organic consumption, and the EU proposal stands to jeopardise consumer trust in the organic sector. Most organic farmers believe contamination can and must be avoided, and even 0.9% GM content would be the antithesis of what they are striving for. Many fear that the proposal could undermine their credibility and ‘point of difference’. Will consumers be happy to pay the premium price tag for organic food if they suspect it might contain undeclared GM ingredients?

Members can find out more in this feature


Sainsbury's pulls the price lever

Sainsbury's, the UK's second-largest grocer, has set out plans for lower prices on a range of products, a move announced amid signs of pressure on its market share....


Intermarche broke rules with Nutella promo, French watchdog says

The pandemonium in stores of Intermarché as shoppers scrambled to grab jars of cut-price Nutella went viral - but the country's competition watchdog has announced the French retailer broke rules on se...


Big Food in investor spotlight this week at CAGNY

The senior management of a number of the major food manufacturers operating in the US will be in Florida this week for a key date on investor calendars....

Forgot your password?