The new launch follows swiftly on from tough new traceability and labelling rules for GM food and feed enforced in Europe just two months ago. Feed produced from genetically modified crops must be traced and labelled as such.
In a statement Britain's third largest retail group Sainsbury stated it had been working with its main suppliers since the end of last year to develop the milk, which will be available alongside its standard, gold top and organic milk. Although the GM-free milk is currently produced on selected farms from farms in the South West and South East areas, the company said it was looking at expanding the supply if customers demand it.
"In the same way as we introduced our organic range in 1986 in response to a small but growing customer demand, this milk has been developed to allow customers to make a choice," said Ian Merton, director of Fresh Food at Sainsbury.
Sainsbury's 'Selected Farm Semi-Skimmed Pasteurised Milk' will retail for 63p per two pints.
Under the new EU rules enforced in April 2004 Regulation 1829/2003 on GM food and feed and Regulation 1830/2003 on traceability and labelling of GMOs and the traceability of food and feed products from GMOs, aim to be a harmonised EU system to trace and label GMOs and to trace food and feed products produced from GMOs.
All food, including soya or maize oil produced from GM soya and maize, and food ingredients, such as biscuits with maize oil produced from GM maize must be labelled. The label has to indicate "This product contains genetically modified organisms" or "produced form genetically modified (name of organism)".
The same rules apply to animal feed including any compound feed that contains GM soya. Corn gluten feed produced form GM maize must also be labelled. This is to give livestock farmers accurate information on the composition and properties of feed.
Sainsbury continues to feel the impact of a three-year restructuring programme - that has seen the company revamp almost all its stores, launch a major non-food product range and streamline a number of its other operations - knocked down last year by supermarket chain Asda into the number three slot.
With the European consumer archly suspicious of genetically modified foodstuffs, the Sainsbury launch could be the first of many GM-free products and an increasing call for GM free ingredients.