Monsanto warns of high prices for ‘natural’ foods

Food made without genetically-modified (GM) ingredients will become “very expensive” and comparable to organic food, predicts US biotechnology giant Monsanto.

Monsanto, which launched its first UK ad campaign, through Bartle Bogle Hegarty, last weekend, says that as traditional crops become harder to source, consumers will have to pay more for GM-free food.

Marcia Hale, director of international governmental affairs for Monsanto, says: “It will become very expensive for the manufacturer and for the consumer.” Iceland, the only retailer to pledge not to use GM ingredients in its own-label range, described this vision as “frightening”.

Monsanto has created a genetically-modified soya bean which was grown in the US and not segregated from traditional crops. Soya is used in about two-thirds of all manufactured food products from biscuits to margarine, and because it has been mixed at source, manufacturers and retailers say they have no choice but to use it. But an Iceland spokeswoman says: “Our sources of traditional soya in Brazil and Canada have all indicated that where there is a demand there will be a supply.”

The Prince of Wales has added his voice to the debate this week, by warning: “We don’t know the long-term consequences for human health and the wider environment of releasing plants bred in this way.”

Monsanto says it underestimated suspicion of GM food in the UK. It is beginning a three-month press ad campaign, inviting consumers to call its free information line, visit its Website and contact opposing organisations for an alternative opinion. Monsanto says biotechnology is safe, and its food crops have been approved by governments in over 20 countries, including the UK.

George Pitcher, page 23

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