What exactly are GMOs?
A GMO is a living organism that we have genetically modified. Its genome has been altered in order to endow it with different properties – such as greater resistance to certain diseases, or greater tolerance to stressful conditions (such as water scarcity) –, teach it how to defend itself against insects, or increase its nutritional properties.
Our staple foodstuffs – such as corn, soy and rapeseed – can include GMOs.
Why do we need to take action?
GMOs pose a threat to biodiversity. They encourage an intensive type of farming involving a few varieties of major crops, increasing the use of pesticides and reducing the populations of certain insects… which become resistant.
Although researchers lack hindsight, they fear the more or less long-term negative effects on people's health and on the environment.
Therefore, the precautionary principle prevailing, Europe has been strictly controlling the cultivation and sale of GMOs since 2001. Carrefour actually banned the use of GMOs* in its food products back in 1999, developing supply lines with its partner livestock farmers.
Nowadays, all Carrefour Quality Line chickens, laying hens, pigs, calves, trout, salmon, prawns and rabbits are fed on GMO-free* feed, as are Carrefour-brand chickens, laying hens, turkeys and quails.
Is this really so new?
Over the last twenty years, Carrefour has implemented numerous initiatives to end the use of GMOs in its products, sometimes doing so before changes in legislation have taken effect. Between 1996 and 1998, with the help of manufacturers, it identified all the ingredients and additives which might contain GMOs in the compositions of every single one of its own-brand products. These were then replaced by products not authorised to undergo genetic manipulation. Then at the end of 1998, Carrefour extended its “GMO-free*” commitment to animal feed. In 2010, with the support of a number of stakeholders (including various consumer associations and NGOs), Carrefour labelled more than 300 of its own-brand animal-based products "fed on GMO-free feed (0.9%)”.
What is the long-term aim?
Carrefour is now encouraging its partners to use French plant proteins in order to protect local biodiversity. This is what it has done, for example, for its Carrefour Quality Line laying hens and chickens, as well as for its Reflets de France chickens, fed on French cereals and soya.
It's worth pointing out that producers have less difficulty getting hold of France-produced plant proteins. Soya, for example, which used to be imported on a massive scale, is now once again something that is produced in France. And many other plant proteins can now be found in France, such as rapeseed, lupin and peas.