Two Finnish companies, Suomen Rehu and Raisio, have started using genetically modified soy in their Turku feed mills.
Owing to the higher prices of genetically unmodified soy and their reduced availability, Suomen Rehu and Raisio have introduced genetically modified (GM) soy into their feed factories in Turku this spring. Raisio’s feed factory also introduced GM soy this spring into their pig and poultry feed.
Genetically modified soybeans imported into Finland has remained at 15 per cent. The largest feed manufacturers have so far avoided using it.
“What the consumers want is what determines what we produce. If price is the determining factor, then that’s where we go,” says Suomen Rehu’s Turku factory plant manager Jarno Erkamaa. Suomen Rehu is one of the leading brands in the Finnish food market and operates four feed mills in Finland.
About 95 per cent of the world’s soy is genetically modified, estimates Erkamaa.
“The GM-free soybean crop area is decreasing all the time and the price for GM-free soy is rising,” says Erkamaa.
No proven health risk
In the past, Finland has tried to steer clear of GM soy for ethical reasons. Erkamaa maintains that there are no safety concerns regarding GM soy.
“Both (GM and non-GM) are just as healthy and as functional, which is backed up by the prevalence of GM soy internationally,” says Erkamaa.
Nevertheless, some customers do not want to buy feed produced from genetically modified soy.
“I've heard that some firms want to stay GMO-free for ethical reasons,” says Erkamaa.
Products – whether for sale in shop or on offer in a restaurant – are not labelled to indicate whether or not the meat has been produced using genetically modified soy in feed.
“For example, for many years the meat served in restaurants has been produced using GM-soy feed and consumers have not asked about whether GM soy has been used or not,” says Erkamaa, adding that imported meat has long been largely GM-soy produced.
Genetically modified organisms, or GMO means an organism, such as an animal or a plant that has been altered using genetic engineering. For imported poultry and pork, 90 per cent have been fed GM-soy. In Finland, in cattle feeds, GM soy is not allowed. Fish and milk production also uses unmodified feed
GM technology has been criticized as its long-term health effects are unknown.