GE animal feed bad, GE-free feed good

Major meat exporter in Brazil is going GE-free in all of its products, including animal feed

Feature story - 13 September, 2002
There have been no farm animal revolts yet, but one of Brazil’s top food producers and meat exporters is not taking any chances. Perdigão will eliminate genetically engineered ingredients from all its food products, including meat, and is taking additional steps to ensure its supplies of animal feed are not genetically contaminated.

This pig is happy, not because he has the run of the barn yard, but because he is getting GE-free food. Pigs and humans can work together to fight genetic engineering.

Earlier this year we found GE soya in five products sold by Perdigão. Although genetically engineered (GE) soya and maize are not legally approved in Brazil, GE soya seeds are reportedly smuggled in illegally from Argentina. Half of the soya grown in Brazil is actually used within the country and the bulk of it goes to animal feed used for poultry and pork products exported to Europe and Asia.

We repeatedly asked Perdigão to stop using GE ingredients in food and in animal feed used for its poultry and pork products, and after pressure by Greenpeace cyberactivists, consumers and our campaigners, they have agreed to go GE-free.

With this commitment by Perdigão, Brazil strengthens its position as the forerunner in the non-GE market by providing non-GE meat for export as well. Earlier this year, another major Brazilian food producer and meat exporter, Sadia, announced its commitment to non-GE status.

The Brazilian food industry has clearly realised that they need to seize this golden opportunity to provide for the rapidly increasing non-GE market. It means that, even if GE crops were approved, a large share of the crop production would remain non- GE. This is great news for the vast majority of consumers, both in Brazil and abroad, who want non-GE food.

Perdigão says the measures will be fully implemented by 1 December 2002. Within Brazil, both Sadia and Perdigão buy and use millions of tonnes of soya and maize. Some of the grains are used to produce food for the Brazilian market, but the major share is used as animal feed for poultry and pork, an increasing share of which gets exported to Europe and Asia.

Now Brazil joins an increasing number of European food producers who are responding to the demands of consumers by producing animal products without using GE supplies.

And it isn't just the animals and consumers benefiting from this shift. Brazilian companies stand to reap the rewards from the market shift to non-GE animal products in Europe and the growing share of the non-GE markets in Asia.

Since the Brazilian government has so far failed to control GE contamination, the food industry is enforcing extra measures to secure non-GE supplies. Brazil is anticipated to further capitalise on its market advantage of being the only one of the world's top three soya producers not allowing GE crops. Non-GE policy makes sense not only from environment and health reasons, but is economic logic as well.