Inghams told off over genetically modified chicken feed

Poultry producer Inghams Enterprises has received a slap on the wrist from the Commerce Commission for advertising its products were genetic modification (GM) free when in fact its birds were fed modified soy.

The commission completed its investigation into allegations made in consumer and trade magazines and on TV between January 2008 and June 2009, that claimed  Inghams was marketing its chicken products as GM free when its birds were eating feed mixed with 13% GM soy.

In the company’s advertising, it stated its chicken products contained “no GM ingredients, have no added hormones or artificial colours.” The company also stated on its website, “Inghams GM policy is clear. Our poultry contains no GM content and are not genetically modified.”

The commission said the company risked breaching the Fair Trading Act through its false advertising. It commissioned Canterbury University professor of genetics and molecular biology Jack Heinemann to research whether chickens that have eaten GM feed could contain GM ingredients in their meat.

Professor Heinemann said; “The cumulative strength of the positive detection reviewed leaves me in no reasonable uncertainty that GM plant material can transfer to animals exposed to GM feed in their diets or environment, and that there can be residual difference in animals or animal-products as a result of exposure to GM feed."

Ingham (of Inghams Enterprises) New Zealand group executive general manager said the company accepted the commission’s decision and immediately amended its advertising campaign when it became aware of the commission’s concerns.

The commission’s director of Fair Trading Adrian Sparrow said many customers wish to avoid food products that contain GM ingredients and this is why food manufacturers "like to position themselves as GM free".

But he added consumers should be able to rely on the validity of statements made in advertising and labelling. “The message to all food manufacturers is clear – consumers want to be able to make informed choices,” Mr Sparrow said.

The commission said although it issued Inghams with a warning, only the courts can decided whether the Fair Trading Act has been breached. Such breaches may result in prosecution, and companies found guilty may be fined up to $200,000 and individuals up to $60,000.

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4 Comments & Questions

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Do cows turn into grass? If you eat a tomato, do you become one? What you eat is not what you become, and is the same for chickens- It's a shame Green peace get airtime for this rubbish

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What an idiot comment. Poison in food turns food poisonous. however surely the issue is whether the consumer has the right to decide what they wish to eat.
Hiding the fact merely suggests that they are aware of the antipathy to the GM fed product and is a form of fraud.

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Anonymous at 5.56 has it exactly right - as long as the food is a suitable diet and nutritionally appropriate for the animals who cares whether it is GM soy or not; there's no GM left after the stomach does its work. This is a non story. I'd be more concerned about vegetarian animals eating rendered carcasses of other animals etc.; i.e innapropriate diet. The GM factor is irrelevant.

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It is interesting to note that the science underlying this while demonstrating that the modified gene sequences from GM protein sources can be found in tissues of animals consuming them, I have yet to see a report looking for gene sequences from non-GM proteins in these same tissues. I suspect that once research in conducted, we will find that these gene sequences are also found. That being the case, why would GM sequences, which are naturally found in other food sources into which they have been transplanted into a new plant/ingredient intended for animal/human consumption, is necessary a health risk while the non-GM sequences are? Both are eventually cycled through protein degradation via normal cellular processes.

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