“Genetic engineering in meat, eggs or cheese is landing on our plates and we don’t know it,” warned WWF consultant Birgit Wilhelm. “Until now, food that comes from animals that have been fed with genetically modified feed does not have to be labelled.”
That is exactly what the WWF is now calling for – mandatory labelling on all animal-based products which contain GM components.
Wilhelm said the current regulations were ridiculous – growing genetically modified soya beans is banned in the European Union, but according to WWF estimates, over 80 percent of the 4.5 million tonnes of soya products on the German market is genetically modified.
Soya oil and soybean meal is imported into the EU from the US, Argentina, and Brazil, and is highly favoured as a feed because of its high protein content.
“Europe has made a clear decision: the consumer does not want genetic engineering,” she said.
The WWF is calling on German meat producers to use GM-free soya beans or native feed, like broad beans or peas instead, which they say is only marginally more expensive. Wilhelm also said that there were plenty of GM-free soya beans on the world market to sustain farmers.
“Buyers just have to order larger quantities of GM-free produce,” said Wilhelm. “Then more will be produced.”
She also said that rising demand for meat in the developing world did not mean there was no alternative to GM feed. “Europe is still a big importer – big enough to have a long-term influence on crop growing habits,” she said. “Europe has to take the lead – it has to start somewhere.”
The WWF believes it is ecologically irresponsible to establish vast single-crop farming plantations, particularly if they have been genetically modified to resist herbicides. This means that herbicides kill off other plants, which has a massive effect on local ecosystems.