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3-Food: UK shops 'unlikely to stock GM food'

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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Beckett backs GM food decision
SOURCE: The Financial Times, UK, by John Mason
DATE:   Jul 17, 2003

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   "Mrs Beckett backed the conclusions of the Downing Street strategy
    unit that said the current range of GM crops had little potential
    in the UK."

Beckett backs GM food decision

Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, is "comfortable" with the
prospect that genetically modified foods may not be on the shelves of
large retailers for some years. The Food Standards Agency said in a
report to Mrs Beckett yesterday that public worries about GM foods have
decreased over the past three years, but people are still concerned about
possible environmental damage and lack trust in both scientists and the
government. The FSA report came as leading supermarket executives met
with Mrs Beckett to discuss whether food retailers would change their
position if the European Union lifted its moratorium on the growing and
importing of GM ingredients. Mrs Beckett backed the conclusions of the
Downing Street strategy unit that said the current range of GM crops had
little potential in the UK. The chief executives of Tesco, J.Sainsbury,
Safeway, Asda and senior figures from the British Retail Consortium told
Mrs Beckett there was no prospect of retailers stocking GM foods unless
there was clear evidence that consumer sentiments had changed. Sainsbury
said: "We listen to our customers and are driven by what they want."
Tesco said: "We are guided by our customers. We have been tracking
customer opinion regularly and nothing has changed." 

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Shops 'unlikely to stock GM food'
SOURCE: The Guardian, UK, by Steven Morris,3604,998963,00.html
DATE:   Jul 16, 2003

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Shops 'unlikely to stock GM food'

Supermarket bosses will today tell the environment secretary, Margaret
Beckett, that there is little prospect of them stocking own brand
genetically modified foods in the foreseeable future.

They will say there has been hardly any shift in the attitudes of
shoppers since consumer power forced stores to remove GM products from
their shelves in the late 90s.

Ms Beckett has invited the chief executives of Safeway, Tesco, Asda and
Sainsbury's and the trade association the British Retail Consortium to a
meeting as part of the government-led debate on GM food.

A spokeswoman at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
said: "The idea is that Ms Beckett will listen to them and hear their
views on GM products which will feed into the other research going on
over the summer."

Supermarket bosses tend not to give their own views on GM food, but say
they will not fill their shelves with it simply because it goes against
customers' wishes.

Richard Ali, director of food policy at the British Retail Consortium,
said: "Our position remains unchanged. We are neutral on GM technology.
But we provide what customers demand and they do not want GM food."

Mr Ali said a shift would probably come only if it was proved that GM
products had tangible benefits for consumers - for example, extra vitamin

The communications director for Safeway, Kevin Hawkins, said: "I think
it's very difficult to see what will move public opinion. We have
certainly seen no change in what people think about GM."

Kate O'Sullivan of Sainsbury's said: "Customers have made it clear they
do not want GM ingredients."

Tesco and Asda also said they had seen no radical change in public attitude.

A Mori poll published this month seemed to show the firm opposition to GM
food. Only one in seven of those surveyed were in favour of GM food, with
46% opposed. However, the poll did indicate a large rise in the number
undecided - 33% compared with 16% five years ago. Mori believes the
increasing indecision could be put down to the complexity of the issue
and the polarised nature of the debate.

An important feature of the poll, according to Mori, was that opposition
is largely irrespective of age and income. However, women are more
opposed than men - 51% against 40% - and opposition is greatest in rural

The attitude of supermarket bosses echoes that in a report on GM
published last week by the Cabinet Office's strategy unit. It said
retailers would be "reluctant to risk their reputation" by abandoning
their no GM policies and added: "A minority demand for GM would not be
enough to induce supermarkets to stock it."


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