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More bad biotech news from across the pond

(January 26, 2001 – Cropchoice news) – In a double dose of bad news for the biotech industry, two major retailers announced that they'll dump genetically engineered food, and Germany shelved its research program on genetically modified crops.

Tesco and Asda/Wal-Mart, two of the top food retailers in Great Britain, announced today that their house brand meat and dairy products will no longer come from animals raised on genetically modified feed.

This will affect U.S. soybean and corn exports to Europe, 80 percent of which wind up as animal feed.

"Since April 1999, virtually the entire European food industry has eliminated GE ingredients," said Charles Margulis, genetic engineering specialist with Greenpeace. "Brazil's been cashing in while U.S. farmers struggle. Seeing this trend repeating with animal feed is terrible news for U.S. farmers." Indeed, Asda has been looking to Brazil for a supply of feed that's free of genetically modified ingredients.

Both Tesco and Asda expect to sell non-engineered pork, poultry, eggs and fish by this fall, with other products to follow. All three of Britain's top supermarkets have now announced their intention to eliminate biotech crops from animal feed, including Sainsbury markets, which made its commitment last year. Other European food companies, such as the Belgian supermarket Carrefour and Wiesenhof, Germany's biggest chicken producer, have announced their intention to sell only animals fed with non- genetically engineered feed. McDonald's recently announced that its chicken products sold across Europe will come from animals raised on a diet free of genetic manipulation.

Earlier this week, Germany announced that it will postpone further research trials on genetically engineered crops. Chancellor Schroeder took this step to reassure consumers who are worried about mad cow disease specifically and biotech food in general.

As part of a three-year program that the Schroeder government launched in June, scientists had planned to sow genetically modified corn and monitor its environmental effects.

The new agriculture minister, Green party member Renate Kuenast, wants Germany to ``massively increase'' organic farming practices.

Source: AgWeb