How important is food traceability to you ? Should we have a transparent food chain particularly when it comes to GMO foods ? Here at Peelham we think food integrity and traceability are as crucial to customers as nutrition and taste. Denise argues this case in her response to The Scottish Farmers Opinion Piece last week published in The Scottish Farmer today:

Sir – In your regular feature ‘From the Men who Know’, Jim Brown (TSF 22nd August), states that ‘…it is total rubbish’ that consumers do not want GM food with the justification that ‘They are already eating it and they simply do not know’ immediately begging-the-question ‘Would they eat it if they knew’ ? Regardless of opinions or concerns (which are increasing), about the safety of GM presence in food, the attitude to the consumer and the market place expressed in this article is astonishing in its arrogance and worrying in its ignorance.

Recent FSA research (2015), indicates that consumers want labels to state the presence of GM food including meat from livestock fed with GM food so that they can make an informed choice. Recent market research in America (The Hartman Group 2014), demonstrates that the American consumer increasingly wants food transparency relating to GM food products. This report significantly warns that companies which stay silent on the issue face the greatest risk of losing consumer trust and relevance. This warning is equally significant to food companies in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The ‘Man who Knows’ should know that the market place determines our incomes and security as farmers. We can no longer blithely grow food which ever way we want and expect society or ‘the market place’ to simply take it. Consumers make our market and they are growing increasingly sensitive to, and aware of the acute relationship between food, health and environment. They (we) have a right to know. No amount of eminent scientists writing letters of complaint to the Government or ‘girning’ farmers will make-up for the lack of transparency in the food chain and the increasing concerns for human and environmental health.

On a positive note and one from which as an industry we could benefit, particularly from land re-knowned for its naturalness, beauty and cleanliness, the ‘free-from’ or ‘purity attributes’ in food are becoming mainstream in both UK and American food cultures. The Scottish Government is absolutely ‘on-message’ to take the stand on banning the growth of GMOs and to protect Scotland’s reputation for green and safe food production. There is of course a great deal more that can be done to develop this Unique Selling Point and it isn’t just about GMOs !