Co-op onboard with gene editing

Despite widespread media coverage claiming that the Co-op would refuse to stock foodstuffs made from gene edited crops or animals, the supermarket this week made it plain that this was not the case.

Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-operative Group, said that the news release which had resulted in the coverage “did not reflect the supermarket’s views or approach” - and had been issued without its approval, giving the false impression that it had signed up as a supporter of the #NotInMySupermarket campaign, which is lobbying against the Defra consultation on gene editing.

“Here at the Co-op, we have not adopted a new position on gene editing, nor are we seeking to pre-empt the outcome of the ongoing Government consultation on the regulation of genetic technologies,” said Murrells in a letter outlining the Co-op’s stance.

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Responding to a request for clarity from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, he said that the supermarket’s current policy prohibited the use of genetically modified (GM) crops, ingredients or additives in Co-op brand products, and had done since 1999 - but added that the Co-op was “absolutely committed” to scientific and evidence-based policy making:

“Given that genetic modification is one of several technologies and innovations that may help to address the challenges facing our global food system, our view is that there is certainly merit in exploring the benefits of gene editing technology, and particularly the role it could play in improving the sustainable production of food.”

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