Genetic engineering – our stance on a controversial issue
Public debate over genetic engineering is marked by controversy, and it has left many people unsettled. We take the concerns of our customers seriously and provide them with a sense of orientation through transparent labelling practices. A growing number of our products now feature the VLOG label of Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik (Association for Food without Genetic Engineering).
There has been an ongoing controversial debate for many years over the benefits and risks of cultivating genetically modified plants. Proponents cite increased agricultural yields and greater food security, while opponents are concerned about economic dependency on major seed companies, among other issues. Debate over the issue is divided in European countries as well. Genetic engineering faces strong criticism particularly in Germany and Denmark.
Nearly 80 per cent of Germans oppose giving livestock genetically modified feed (BMUB and BfN (2016): study on nature awareness 2015).
53 per cent of Danes take a critical stance towards genetically modified grain (TNS Gallup for Berlingske).
Where does ALDI North stand on the issue?
Customers’ needs are the focus at ALDI North, and we take their concerns about genetic engineering seriously. That is why for some time now, all ALDI North food has been produced without genetically modified ingredients. All suppliers are obliged to guarantee that their goods do not contain any GMO food ingredients, additives or other substances according to EU legislation. The suppliers must also keep all appropriate declarations and laboratory analyses, where applicable, and disclose them for audits. This applies to all food sold by ALDI North and includes all upstream stages in the production process.
As one of the most important types of feed, soybean meal is especially important when it comes to genetic engineering, as large volumes of it are currently imported to Europe from overseas and mainly come from genetically modified soya varieties. We believe that under the current circumstances, there are too few incentives for sustainable soya cultivation and that this situation is not likely to change any time soon. We therefore offer our customers in Germany exclusively egg and fresh poultry products that bear the Ohne GenTechnik (no genetic engineering) label. A number of additional meat and dairy products also have this label, and other products will be joining this group in 2018. We will be defining our goals in 2018 in an International Soya Purchasing Policy.
Labelling creates transparency
We go above and beyond the legal requirements when it comes to labelling our own brands. Through the “Ohne GenTechnik” (no genetic engineering) label, we provide our customers with assurance that no genetically modified organisms were used either in the food or the feed for animals. After all, there is currently no requirement in the EU to label such products of animal origin. Consumers will find a growing number of products at ALDI North with the “Ohne GenTechnik” label, such as dairy products, meat, oils and eggs.
Background: the EU labelling requirement for genetically modified food
Under EU law, all food, ingredients and additives made from a genetically modified organism (GMO) or that are themselves or contain a GMO must be labelled. GMOs are defined as those organisms whose genetic material has been modified in such a way that would not be possible to achieve naturally through hybridisation and/or natural recombination. There are exceptions to this labelling requirement, however. For example, milk, eggs and meat do not have to be labelled, even if the animals ate genetically modified feed. This means that, under EU law, the labelling of food of animal origin does not require the use of genetically modified feed to be disclosed, which is why we turn to the “Ohne GenTechnik” label to provide this information.
We know that there is still a lot to do when it comes to animal welfare, but we are on the right track, as confirmed by two recent publications on commitment to animal welfare in the food industry
Numerous non-food products that ALDI sells, such as textiles, toys and furniture, are manufactured in Asia. The team, ALDI CR-Support Asia Ltd is responsible for monitoring the labour and social standards of production sites.
ALDI North is an internationally successful discounter. Part of our business ethos involves taking responsibility for our actions. Our CR Policy is enshrined throughout the entire Group.
We take responsibility for safe and fair working conditions and compliance with environmental standards wherever we can make a difference
Judges that scrutinise apples and cucumbers? They really exist! Experts on freshness, they play an important role in meeting our customers’ high expectations.
The survey for our Sustainability Report revealed that animal welfare is a major concern for our customers. With the help of a dedicated team, we here at ALDI North are working on making effective progress, step by step.
Increasing numbers of consumers are interested in knowing where the food made from animals that they purchase in our stores comes from. We are working tirelessly on animal welfare issues together with our suppliers and various organisations in every country where ALDI North engages in retail.
And how can we make lasting improvements in cultivation on a wide scale? In the Netherlands, we are finding the answers in a joint project with suppliers and producers.