GENET archive


3-Food: Tesco UK rejects vegetables grown on GM-test sites

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  A) Tesco rejects vegetables grown on GM-test sites
        B) Letter to Tescošs supplier
        C) References
SOURCE: A) Press Association,
        B) + C) sent by GEN lists UK
DATE:   A) January 6, 00
        B) + C) January 7, 00

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A) Tesco rejects vegetables grown on GM-test sites

A leading supermarket chain is instructing its fruit and
vegetable suppliers not to grow crops on sites used for testing
genetically modified crops, it emerged today. The move by Tesco
comes as the Government is proposing GM farm-scale trials for
three crop varieties at over 60 sites.

Greenpeace immediately claimed it would be a blow to ministerial
efforts to find farmers willing to host the GM trials this year
and could have implications for the commercial value of
agricultural land used for them. But a Cabinet Office spokesman
dismissed the Tesco letter as a "marketing ploy", which the
firm admitted had no basis in science.

The latest controversy over GM crops was sparked by the Tesco
letter from the company's Cheshunt, Hertfordshire headquarters to
130 field vegetable and salad crop suppliers. It told them: "We
need to be able to assure our customers that no material from GM
crop trials could come in contact with our crops." "Therefore any
crop grown for Tesco must not be grown in a field that has been
used for GM trial crops."

Greenpeace executive director, Peter Melchett, said: "This
dramatic move will be welcomed by everyone who shops at Tesco and
we warmly congratulate Tesco for taking a lead on this vital
environmental issue." "We expect that every supermarket and food
retailer in the UK will now have to follow Tesco's lead." "Any
farmer considering holding a GM field trial on their land now
faces the prospect of never being able to sell produce from GM
contaminated land to the largest food retailer in Britain."

Tesco's new instructions were disclosed today by Peter Melchett
speaking from the platform at the Oxford Farming Conference. Alan
McLaughlin, spokesman for Tesco told PA News: "Yes, we are
writing to a number of our suppliers because we have been getting
questions asking for clarification about what will happen to
field sites and crops." "We are not saying you cannot get
involved in a government trial if you supply Tesco."

"We are saying that you cannot plant a Tesco crop in the same
field, which to us is common sense." He said customers rejected
GM ingredients and animal feed "full stop" and although
knowledgable, remained confused about the issue. What was needed
was some scientific fact from the trials, he added.

A Cabinet Office spokesman told PA News: "They have clarified
that their letter was directed only at the suppliers of fresh
fruit and vegetables and so will not have a significant impact on
the farmers involved in GM crop trials which Tesco support."
Ministers say there is a lack of scientific information on which
to base firm decisions about the future of GM crops and the
trials are essential.

The Government is proposing farm-scale trials for three crop
varieties winter oilseed rape planting in September/October,
spring oilseed rape, planting in April and forage maize planting 
in May at over 60 sites. The total potential area covered by the
GM farm-scale trails is estimated at 1,700 acres, this year.


B) Letter to Tescošs suppliers

Tesco House, Delamare Road, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire ENS 9SL
Telephone: 01992632222
Extension: Direct Line: 01992 Facsimile: 01992

Dear Supplier,

Re GM Trial Plots.

Our customers have reservations about GM foods

In response Tesco policy is that we will not source any crop that
has been genetically modified. Some scientists have now raised
concerns about the DNA in post harvest waste from GM trial crops,
e.g. Rape and Sugar Beet, remaining in the soil. Concerns have
also been expressed about toxins from genetically modified Bt
maize migrating into the soil and affecting soil ecology (article
published in New Scientist 4th December). We need to be able
assure our customers that no material from GM crop trials could
come in contact with our crops. Therefore any crop grown for
Tesco MUST NOT be grown in a field that has been used for GM
trial crops.

Thank you for your co-operation.


C) References

Koskella, K. & Stotzky, G. (1997) 'Microbial Utilization of Free
and Clay-Bound Insecticidal Toxins from Bt and Their Retention of
Insecticidal Activity after Incubation with Microbes,' Applied
and Environmental Microbiology, Sept. 1997, p. 3561-3568

Crecchio, C. & Stotzky, G. (1998) 'Insecticidal activity and
biodegradation of the toxin from bacillus thuringiensis subsp.
kurstaki bound to humic acids from soil', Soil Biology &
Biochemistry, Volume 30, Vol. 30 (4) pp. 463-470, 1998.

Tapp, H. & Stotzky, G. (1998) "Persistence of the Insecticidal
Toxin from Bt subsp. Kurstaki in Soil," Soil Biology and
Biochemistry, Vol. 30, No. 4, p. 471-476., 1998

Gebhard, F. & Smalla, K. 'Transformation of Acinetobacter sp. 
Strain BD413 by Transgenic Sugar Beet DNA' Applied and
Environmental Microbiolology, April 1998, p. 1550-1554, Vol. 64,
No. 4

Gebhard, F. & Smalla, K. (1999) "Monitoring field releases of
genetically modified sugar beets for persistence of transgenic
plant DNA and horizontal gene transfer," FEMS Microbiology
Ecology, 1999, Vol.28, No.3, pp.261-272

PRAST, (1999) 'GE crops with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes
suspected to harm soil ecology'

Benbrook, C. (1999) 'Impacts on Soil Microbial Communities Needs
Further Study', Ag BioTech InfoNet

Saxena, D. , Flores, S. and Stotsky, G. (1999) 'Insecticidal
toxin in root exudates from Bt corn', Nature, Vol 402, 2 December
1999, p.480

Benbrook, C. (1999) 'Commentary on Insecticidal toxin in root
exudates from Bt corn', Ag BioTech InfoNet


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