By Louise Gray
Millions of Britons are unwittingly eating food made using genetically modified soy, a survey of the leading grocery brands has disclosed.
Household names like Cadbury Dairy Milk and Bird’s Eye use milk, eggs and meat made from animals that could have been fed GM soy, the research shows.
The Daily Telegraph asked leading brands if they could guarantee that their products contained no ingredients from animals fed on GM soy.
The responses showed that ingredients in non-organic Hellman’s Mayonnaise or Lurpak butter could be from animals raised on a GM diet.
After the outcry over Frankenfoods in the 1990s, the EU ordered that supermarkets and manufacturers must label direct GM ingredients.
However there is no need to tell the consumer if GM has been used further back in the food chain.
Campaigners said allowing the livestock industry to become reliant on GM soy is letting in the controversial technology “by the back door”.
Environmentalists claim GM soy is driving deforestation and poisoning communities in South America.
The Telegraph survey showed that brands including Cathedral City, Cravendale milk and Magnum ice cream use products from animals that could have been fed GM.
Pet foods including Whiskas, Felix and Pedigree Chum could also include such products.
Barbara Gallani, Director of Food Safety and Science at the Food and Drink Federation, said most major brands will use meat and dairy from animals fed GM unless they are organic lines.
“The increased use of biotechnology globally means that UK livestock will receive a growing proportion of GM crops in their feed,” she said. “This is largely unavoidable, as the UK has always been reliant on imports of animal feed.”
More than three millions tonnes of soy is imported into the UK every year, a large proportion of which is GM.
The Daily Telegraph has already revealed that all supermarkets routinely sell food from animals reared on GM crops.
Michael Meacher, the former Labour environment minister, said there have not been enough studies carried out on the health implications of meat and dairy from animals fed GM soy.
He said food should be labelled if GM animal feed is used.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said a recent ruling in Brussels means that shipments of GM contaminated with unauthorised seeds could be allowed into the EU.
This means that GM that has not been safety tested in Europe could end up in the UK food chain.
There is also 150,000 tonnes of GM soy oil sold in Britain every year, mostly used in fast food restaurants.
Caterers are supposed to tell customers if soy is used but over the past five years Trading Standards have cracked down on hundreds of hotels and pubs found to be breaking the law.
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, of Friends of the Earth, said rainforest is being cleared to make way for GM soy plantations.
The intensively farmed crops also rely on liberal use of pesticides, which can cause problems for the surrounding community.
In Paraguay there have been reports of adults and children made ill and even killed by the growing use of pesticides.
“There’s a chain of destruction linking soy fields flooded with pesticides to the UK’s factory farms which are polluting our countryside and giving us unhealthy food,” she said.