9 October 2014 – The leading German retail chains have been forging the German poultry industry to return to the use of non-GMO feed. In late August 2014, the retailers have announced to German consumers that they demanded from the German Poultry Association (ZDG) to stop using GMO feed for both egg and poultry production. Starting from 1st January 2015, retail chains are looking to have supplies of GMO-free eggs and poultry meat on their shelves.
In February 2014 ZDG unilaterally declared that it was stopping using conventional animal feed it would switch to the use GMO feed, similar to the earlier decision of England and Denmark producers. The ZDG’s decision was based on the alleged lack of conventionally produced soybeans, which are mainly imported from Brazil. It seems that the ZDG has tried to reduce the cost of sampling and traceability in the feed supply. But, ZDG has withdrawn its statement of alleged lack of GMO-free soy, when the Brazilian authorities confirmed that the country has enough conventionally produced soybeans not only for Germany but also for all European countries. According to the Brazilian associations of soy producers and processors (APRSOJA and ABRANGE) production of GMO-free soy in rising to meet increasing demand mainly from the EU. Farmers are returning to conventional soybeans because it has a higher yield, it is better adapted to the climatic conditions than GM soy, and receive bonuses on top of the regular price for certified GMO-free soy.
German retail chains have announced further steps, namely the requirement for GMO-free feed for all livestock production: dairy industry, pork and beef.
What you need to know?
In Brazil, the cultivation of GMO soybeans was allowed 2003, after a decade of smuggling across borders, and today the country produces both types: GMO and conventional soy. Most soy ends up in animal feed to feed cattle, pigs and poultry. The livestock production sector in Europe would not be able to maintain its level of productivity without the Brazilan soy protein. Imported soybeans and soybean meal are the main route of entry of GMO’s into animal feed and livestock production, while only a small part is used for the production of food and food additives (lecithin).
GMO soy is treated by herbicide glyphosate whose molecules are incorporated into the stem, leaves and soybeans. Residues of this hazardous chemical can not be washed off the plants because they enter the plants, and in addition to being present in the plant, glyphosate can bioaccumulate in organisms after feeding (both animals and humans). A study published in the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology in January 2014 demonstrated the presence of glyphosate in cow’s milk that is directly proportional to residues in feed. Cows in GMO-free zones had the lowest concentrations of glyphosate. The herbicide glyphosate was detected in various cattle organs: intestine, liver, muscle, spleen and kidney, which is not new to the scientific community. Rabbits had significantly fewer residues of glyphosate in the urine in comparison to commercially farmed rabbits which are fed GMO feed.
An independent study from 2013 showed that traces of glyphosate and its degradation product AMPA can be found in bodies of people of all investigated European countries (the testing was conducted in 18 European countries). Another study from December 2011 tested the urine to glyphosate content in the Berlin population. The study tested workers from urban zones, journalists, lawyers, and people who did not come into direct contact with glyphosate and were not engaged in agriculture whatsoever. The study revealed the presence of glyphosate in all urine samples ranging from 0.5 to 2 ng/ml – while the upper limit in drinking water is set to 0.1 ng/ml!
The national legislation of some EU member states supports the labeling of GMO-free foods. Wherever such labeling was implemented there was an increase in demand and sales of GMO-free food. This type of labeling gives European farmers and consumers the right to choose what they really want to eat, and supermarkets clearly noticed what people want. Supermarkets are pushing the issue of GMO-free food in the pursue of satisfying consumers need – and clearly, the fear of possible profits reduction. This is their drive to change the supply chain and they are starting from poultry and eggs, regardless of the biotechnology lobby pressure.
In 2013 the representatives of European industries that use soy in food and feed, as well as representatives of trade chains signed the “Brussels Soy Declaration” which supports the production of conventional soybeans in Brazil. Among them are: Colruyt Group (retail chains in Belgium, France, Luxembourg), Deutsche Verband Tiernahrung (the German association for animal feed), EDEKA (association of small and medium enterprises), Kaufland Group and Lidl (retail chains in Germany and Central Europe), REWE group (Billa), the Swiss Soy Netzwerk which represents producers, environmental organizations and retail chains, Spar group (retail chains from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech and Croatia), and some other organizations. This development came soon after the announcement by some UK supermarkets that they would abandon requirements that their poultry suppliers use no GMO-feed.
German Supermarket Giants Demand Return to GMO-Free Fed Poultry, 2. September 2014, Global GMO Free Coalition, gmofreeglobal.org
Soybeans. GMO Compass, gmo-compass.org
EU retailers pledge support for Brazilian non-GMO-soy, 8. May 2013., All About Feeds, allaboutfeeds.net
Brussels Soy Declaration, 2013