THE FOODSERVICE industry is ready to have another look at the options around genetically modified (GM) food.
According to a poll on foodservicefootprint.com, 78% of readers are in favour of re-opening the debate on GM foods. Meanwhile, 11% dont want a debate and 11% want nothing to do with the technology.
One industry leader has called for a sensible debate around GM, highlighting the similarities between the issue and that experienced in the sector this time last year regarding Halal.
Speaking to Foodservice Footprint, Caroline Fry, CH&Co CEO, said there was a job to do in educating the sector so it was prepared to deal with more questions from clients going forward.
This [GM] will be high profile again. I think we need to have discussions about education and understanding again. Our clients are not asking us about GM, but it will be a high profile issue so we need to pre-empt that.
CH&Co serves no GM food, with its policy also stretching to GM-free animal feed for the livestock reared to produce its meat, eggs and dairy products. By her own admission, Fry neither backs nor opposes GM, but she does want to understand the issue better.
Lindsay Winser, communications controller at 3663, also said that GM was not currently as high on our customers agenda as nutrition, allergies and health and wellbeing, but it is still an area that well continue to monitor. She added: We test our products and ingredients regularly according to a risk assessment schedule to ensure that our non-GM status is maintained.
Interest around GM has intensified in recent weeks on the back of comments made by political parties and a growing concern around food security globally and the drought conditions being faced in the UK already this year.
The Farming Minister, Jim Paice, said recently that GM is not the answer to everything, but in the foreseeable future we'll have nitrogen-fixing wheat if that isn't going to be a major development I don't know what is. It's going to be a big challenge for the industry and consumers as to whether they are prepared to welcome that for the major environmental gains against the concerns people have against GM."
To date, Europe has been largely opposed to GM technology, with figures released last month by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications showing very few commercially grown crops in the EU.
In January, BASF announced that it was going to concentrate its plant biotechnology activities in North and South America due to a lack of acceptance in Europe. The ISAAA data showed that the amount of land under GM crops in areas outside Europe is rising.
An analysis of the GM debate is in this months Foodservice Footprint .