The opinions of various stakeholders on co-existence will be detailed in consultations activities that started in July 2006 by Defra. General statements, however, are already available.
The government wants to ensure freedom of choice for consumers. This is because there is no scientific reason to ban GMOs, but some consumers do not wish to purchase and eat GM foods.
Farmers’ organisations have a relatively relaxed view of coexistence. Most prefer a voluntary co-existence scheme. Organic farmers, however, are seeking to establish a threshold of 0 percent.
Food companies are avoiding all GMO products due to a lack of consumer acceptance. Feed producers commonly using and labelling GM feeds, but there is also a separate non-GM feed market.
Consumers demand clear labelling and freedom of choice. The majority of consumers reject GM foods in general, which is associated with opposition from many NGOs.
Thorough consultation activities took place when the EU labelling directive was translated into national law. Consultation activities are again underway with the publication of coexistence proposals by Defra in early 2006.
There are many initiatives against GMOs in the UK, and British based NGOs are orchestrating activities beyond the UK. Among the key players are international NGOs like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.