Spain's largest retailer blocks GM foods

Supermarket chain calls on suppliers to ensure absence of modified ingredients this year

Spain's largest supermarket chain, Pryca, today announced that it is phasing out the use of genetically-modified (GM) ingredients in own-brand food products sold in its 58 stores. Describing the decision as "a response to public fears," a Pryca spokesperson told ENDS Daily that the company had instructed suppliers to stop using GM ingredients in products which carry the company trademark by the end of this year. Carrefour, the supermarket giant which owns the largest shareholding in Pryca, has already introduced a similar measure in its French stores (ENDS Daily 5 February). Pryca's decision was described by the Spanish Consumers' Union (UCE) as "a marketing exercise" and "ineffective because GM ingredients are so widespread and difficult to identify". However Diego Herranz of environmental group Ecologists in Action welcomed the move and said his organisation expected the decision to cause "a chain reaction against GM ingredients". The group has been pressing for a similar undertaking from other major Spanish food retailers. ENDS Daily was told by Marks and Spencer España and Nestlé España that their companies' policy was neither to sell nor produce foods containing genetically-modified ingredients. Spain is the biggest importer of GM soya and the EU's only significant producer of GM maize. Some 19,000 hectares of GM maize were planted last year, according to government figures. The upper house of the Spanish parliament tomorrow begins debating a new law on the production and sale of foods which will include the issue of genetically-modified ingredients.

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