Responding to a joint letter organized by Beyond GM and Slow Food in the UK, the Co-op has become the first supermarket to declare it has ‘no current plans’ to change its policy on prohibiting GMOs.
The #NotInMySupermarket letter was delivered during a Government consultation on removing the regulations and labelling from plants and animals in the food chain which have been created through gene editing. It urged UK supermarkets to ‘respect the wishes’ of their customers after surveys showed the majority opposed genetically engineered foods. Beyond GM and Slow Food in the UK called upon the CEOs of the nation’s major supermarkets to ‘demonstrate leadership’ by refusing to stock foods produced from ‘unregulated and unlabelled gene-edited crops and animals’.
They will gain a competitive advantage over other stores in doing so
With the support of 50-plus industry signatories, the campaign now has the backing of the Co-op, which made the following statement via its chief executive, Jo Whitfield:
“Genetic editing is one of several new technologies and innovations that may in the future help us to address the challenges facing our global food system. However, as with any new technology, it is important citizens are assured about food safety and the environmental and economic impacts are thoroughly understood before any decisions on widespread adoption are made. To this end, scrutiny by independent scientists and officials, as well as engagement with civil society, is essential. We would expect government to clearly set out how it intends to regulate gene editing, whilst providing clear conditions of use and any labelling requirements. We have no current plans to change our policy on prohibiting genetically modified (GM) organisms, which includes organisms produced by gene editing.”
The organizations claim to be ‘delighted’ that Co-op has ‘made a clear first step that others can follow’ and are now ‘in dialogue’ with other supermarket chains.
The Co-op’s thoughtful response … is a big step forward
Pat Thomas, director of Beyond GM, comments: “The Co-op’s thoughtful response shows respect for its customers but also for science. It demonstrates the understanding that gene-editing is a technology that creates GMOs and therefore should be regulated in order to protect people and the environment. This is a big step forward.”
Shane Holland, executive chairman of Slow Food in the UK, adds: “The Co-op is reassuring the majority of the UK public – who don’t want GMO/gene edited foods on the shelves – that their wishes are respected. I am certain that they will gain a competitive advantage over other stores in doing so.”