James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, has said he suspects customers of the premium retailer will not want to buy gene-edited food.
Mr Bailey put genetically modified food and gene-edited produce together in the same bracket, claiming Waitrose shoppers had been ‘averse’ to buying products which were not ‘natural’ in the past.
He had been asked for his opinion on gene editing at the online Oxford Farming Conference last week, but batted the question away by saying his views were irrelevant and what mattered was what consumers want.
The topic was raised after the UK Government launched a gene editing consultation, and Defra Secretary George Eustice dedicated his conference speech to it.
“It is a thorny subject, GM overall and gene editing,” Mr Bailey said.
“We will be waiting to see the outcome of the consultation. It is a big new field and we do not want to prejudge things.
“This would be one of those things [where] our customers demand to know where their products have come from and in what way they have been produced.
“If our customers do not buy it, there is no point in us getting involved in the market to procure it.
“I suspect that will be the outcome for this one, but we wait and see.”