Wiesenhof, the largest German poultry producer, has announced that it will turn back to using GM-free animal feed due to consumer demand.
Wiesenhof’s U-turn comes just 10 months after the German Poultry Association (ZDG) unilaterally declared that it was stopping using GM-free animal feed, following similar moves by other associations in England and Denmark. The reasons provided for the step after over a decade of GMO-free feeding were an alleged shortage of GMO-free soya, the risk of contamination, and the associated legal uncertainty.
Wiesenhof confirmed on Friday that they will soon be in a position to supply GM-Free fed poultry again, as this is what is “desired by customers”.
Alexander Hissting of VLOG (Association Food without Genetic Engineering) told Spiegel; “We expect an almost complete return of the poultry meat industry to GMO -free production in the coming months.”
Wiesenhof’s decision is a direct result of pressure from the top German supermarkets. In late August the supermarkets, with a broad consensus, demanded the German Poultry Association (ZDG) to stop using GMO feed for both egg and poultry meat production, starting from January 1st 2015. That is the date when the retailers want to receive GMO-free fed products again, meaning that poultry suppliers have had to rush to get their feed supply chains free from GMO feed once more.
Following close consultation with Brazilian authorities, the German supermarkets realized that the reasons given by ZDG for turning their back on GMO-free feed did not stand up: There is clearly enough Brazilian GMO-free feed in the system to supply Europe’s needs.
Sustainable Pulse Director, Henry Rowlands, stated: “The wool has been pulled over the eyes of retailers across Europe by the GMO industry over the past year. We welcome the news that they have started to fight back in the interest of their customers, who do not want to buy GM-fed eggs and meat.”
ZDG originally reacted to the pressure from the supermarkets and consumers by proposing to the retailers to set up a working group to discuss options. The argument of insufficient availability of non-GMO soya was formally retracted by the ZDG.
The German retailers also indicated that they will demand a completely GMO-free feed supply chain in all animal feed sectors, including dairy, pork and beef as a next step that is to follow relatively soon.
In 2013 12 supermarkets from across Europe signed the Brussels Soy Declaration, stating that they want EU consumers and farmers to have a choice to eat and use non-GMO soy. This development came soon after the announcement by some UK supermarkets that they would abandon requirements that their poultry suppliers use non-GMO feed.