UK Supermarkets maintain strict GM-free policy for 2004

23 January 2004 has completed its annual survey of UK supermarkets for their position on genetically modified (GM) food and ingredients for 2004.

The results show that opposition to GM foods is as strong as it was in 1999, when supermarkets removed GM foods and ingredients from their shelves. Just as in 1999, no UK supermarket includes GM food or ingredients in their own-brand products. Increasingly, supermarkets are also specifying GM-free feed for animals producing their meat, milk and eggs.

Furthermore, despite the Government's apparent wish to introduce GM crops into the UK in 2004, all of the supermarkets have declared that they have no plans this year to reintroduce GM food, food containing GM ingredients or derivatives of GM ingredients in their own-brand products.

The survey for 2004 asked the question:

"Can you please confirm that [supermarket name] will not reintroduce GM foods, GM ingredients or derivatives of GM ingredients into its own-brand products in 2004?"

The answers to this question are shown below. Supermarkets maintain a GM-free position because of the continued rejection by consumers of GM foods. Consumers believe that GM foods are unsafe, untested and may cause environmental damage.

For more information about the issues with GM crops and GM food, see

The responses from each of the supermarkets can be seen in the summary below.


(From Alan Davies (, Customer Relations, 31 December 2003)

"I have enclosed, below a copy of the Co-op's GM policy and would like to assure you that the Co-op will not be introducing any GM products in the coming year."

For more information on the Co-Op non-GM policy:,gm


(From Pauline Chapman (, Customer Services, 2 January 2004)

"As we were the 1st retailer to ban GM foods in May 1998, I can confirm that we will continue with the decision that we made then."

For more information on the Iceland non-GM policy:

Marks and Spencer

(From Heidi Hall (, Retail Customer Services, 23 January 2004)

"I can tell you that we have no plans to reintroduce any GM products into our range for 2004."

For more information on the Marks and Spencer non-GM policy:


(From Alison Bush (, Head of Communications, 12 January 2004)

"We removed all GM soya and maize ingredients from our own brand products back in 1999. We have no intention of introducing any GM products in 2004."

For more information on Safeway's non-GM policy please see


(From Kate O'Sullivan (, 23 January 2004)

"In response to overwhelming customer concern and demand for non-GM foods, Sainsbury's was the first major supermarket to eliminate GM ingredients from all own brand products. All of our own brand food, pet food and dietary supplements are clearly labelled and do not contain any GM ingredients. We continue to offer our customers the quality food and choice they expect from Sainsbury's."

For more information on the Sainsbury's non-GM policy:


(From Linda Kelly (, Customer Service Executive to the Board, 20 January 2004)

"I can confirm that Tesco will not reintroduce GM foods, GM ingredients or derivatives of GM ingredients into its own-brand products in 2004."

For more information on the Tesco non-GM policy:


(From Lucy Taylor (, Waitrose Customer Service, 30 December 2003)

"Since the end of March 1999, no Waitrose own label product has contained any GM ingredients as defined by law. Food safety is of paramount importance to both Waitrose and it's customers. The debate about growing GM crops and the foods produced from them has elevated concerns about food, environmental and consumer safety issues. These include the possible effects on wildlife and their environment, and the transfer of 'inserted' characteristics to other crops or native plants. We aim to keep on top of any developing methods, concerns and issues that are raised, and will operate an 'authenticity' program to ensure that all consignments of goods are free of GMOs. This programme uses a system of traceability from seed to supplier, known as an 'Identity Preserved' system that we require in our Technical Policy."

For more information on the Waitrose non-GM policy:
Notes for Editors

1. A web version of this article, with hyperlinks, can be found here:

2. This is the third annual survey of supermarket attitudes on GM foods carried out by The supermarkets' steadfast positions against GM ingredients and GM derivatives have not weakened since the first survey in 2002, nor since the unanimous rejection of GM ingredients and GM derivatives, by supermarkets in 1999.

3. See also: "Supermarkets tell Blair: we won't stock GM" - Observer, 8 June 2003: "The British Retail Consortium, which represents 90 per cent of high-street shops, has sent an unequivocal warning to the Government that GM food is not commercially viable in the UK."


Marcus Williamson
Editor, Genetically Modified Food-News