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Food firms reject GM ingredients as tougher GM food labels come into force

FoE | 15.04.2004 16:23 | Bio-technology | Ecology

The UK's biggest food companies will continue to reject GM ingredients
in their products when tougher GM labelling laws are introduced on
Sunday 18th April.

Friends of the Earth Press Release
Immediate release: Thursday 15th April

. as tougher GM food labels come into force

Contact: Clare Oxborrow 020 7566 1716 or 07712 843 211 (m)

The UK's biggest food companies will continue to reject GM ingredients
in their products when tougher GM labelling laws are introduced on
Sunday 18th April, a survey by Friends of the Earth has revealed. The
news will be welcomed by consumers across the UK who made it clear
that they do not want to eat GM food. Meanwhile the UK Government,
which opposed plans for tougher GM labelling rules to "minimise the
risks" of alienating the US [1], is backing applications for GM rice
and sweetcorn to be imported into Europe.

Under existing EU regulations, food containing one per cent or more of
genetically modified DNA must be labelled so that consumers can opt to
avoid it. But on Sunday 18th April tougher GM labelling rules come in
to effect which:
Cover 'derivatives' from GM crops including oils and lecithin, both
mainly found in processed food;
Tighten the labelling threshold from one per cent to 0.9 per cent;
Include 'feed' fed to animals.

Friends of the Earth contacted the UK's leading supermarkets and food
manufacturers [see below] to question their policy on the new GM
labelling laws. Most indicated that they do not expect to be required
to label any of their own-brand products when the new regulations come
into force. The continuing GM ban is a result of clear anti-GM
pressure from consumers. Last year the Government embarked on a major
public consultation on GM which found that most people said no to GM.
Only eight per cent said they were happy to eat GM food - 86 per cent
were not.

News that food companies are continuing to boycott GM ingredients will
come as a further blow to biotech firms. Last month it became clear
that GM crops would not be grown in the UK for the foreseeable future
when Bayer ditched plans to commercialise GM maize, despite qualified
Government backing for the crop. The move means that the UK is likely
to remain free from commercial GM crops for the foreseeable future.

Despite consumer hostility toward GM food, the UK Government continues
to support it at a European level, backing applications for GM rice
and sweetcorn to be imported into the UK. If these crops are allowed
to be imported into the UK, it will be harder for companies to avoid
GM contamination, and undermine consumer efforts to choose GM-free

Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:
"Food companies are rightly continuing to listen to UK consumers and
saying no to GM ingredients. This is good news for everyone who wants
GM-free food. But the UK Government continues to undermine efforts to
keep Britain GM-free by backing plans for GM rice and sweetcorn to be
imported in to Britain. If this happens it will be harder for
companies and consumers to avoid GM. It's time Mr. Blair abandoned the
dangerous and unpopular GM experiment and backed healthy and
sustainable food and farming instead."

The United States Government has threatened to challenge the European
GM labelling scheme under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. The
USA and a handful of other countries have already launched a WTO case
over Europe's de facto moratorium on the granting of new GM licenses
on GM food and crops.

1. The UK Government opposed the labelling of GM derivatives, and the
tightening of the GM threshold to below 1 per cent. See:



J Sainsbury:
"Based on the informal guidance received to date from the Food
Standards Agency (FSA) we see no reason for any changes that will be
required to be made to the labelling of our own label foods." - Letter
31 April 2004

"as a 100 % own brand retailer we are able to offer our customers a
very clear proposition that all Marks & Spencer food is produced using
non GM ingredients and derivatives" - Letter 12 March 2004

"I can confirm that Waitrose continues to obtain food and food
ingredients for Waitrose brand from conventional (rather than GM)
sources and to transport and process them in a way designed to prevent
accidental mixing with GM material. Therefore there will be no changes
to the labelling of Waitrose brand products as far as genetically
modified ingredients are concerned." - Letter 10 March 2004

"With regard to our current product range and the impact of the
impending EU regulations, none of our range will require labelling as
containing GM ingredients"

" will remain our policy to ensure that no own brand products
contain GM ingredients"

"Tesco does not.have any own-label GM foods on its shelves, and this
will not change as a result of the new EU legislation in April. the
new legislation will mean that branded products on our shelves which
have GM ingredients will have to be labelled, enabling the customer to
make an informed choice."

Morrisons/ Safeway:
"We have removed GM ingredients and GM derivatives from all our own
label products. In accordance with current legislation we expect
branded goods that contain GM ingredients to be clearly labelled to
enable our shoppers to make their own informed choice about what they
are buying.

Regarding GM animal feed, we are working with our suppliers to come up
with a solution that will support our existing policy."

".we do not at this stage anticipate private label products requiring
GM labelling."

Somerfield/ Kwiksave
"Our position with regards to Genetic Modification remains unchanged.
The changes in the EU regulations will not affect our own label
products or the way that we continue to produce them."

"Iceland own brand products have been made without GM ingredients
since 1998 and we can confirm our commitment to this policy
remains.The new regulations will not lead to any change in this
position." Letter 14 March 2004

"We do not expect there will be labelled products." Dick Toot,
Unilever - phone conversation 6/4/04

Associated British foods -
All ABF brands are GM free - phone conversation.

Nestlé recognises consumer concerns about different aspects of
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and therefore continues to
provide non-GM products.

Cadbury Schweppes:
"from 18th April 2004 the date the regulation occurs our products
will not require GM labelling." - e-mail 5 April 2004

Contact: Clare Oxborrow 020 7566 1716 or 07712 843 211 (m)

Helen Burley
Media Officer
Tel: 020 7566 1702
Press office (24hr): 020 7566 1649
Mobile: 07778 069930



Hide the following 4 comments

Too late

15.04.2004 17:11

I suppose it says much for the faith some people have in the Press Releases of organisations like Nestle and Waitrose that they believe we are not all eating GM food now.

ANY product which has been commercialy made in the US, Canada or Mexico WILL contain GM elements. 100% of US and Canadian wheat for example is GM modified. The USA is the world's largest producer of wheat and 40% of UK products that contain wheat contain USA wheat.

The solution is to grow your own food and stop given money to multi-national food producers.

GM realist

Money !

15.04.2004 17:17

GM Realist is of course right but I think you will find the coffers are a little low at Friends of the Earth right now as a result of one too many trips to "conferences' overseas therefore a Press Release timed to coincide with a new round of requests for donations is needed. Expect to see FoE spokesman on BBC Breakfast, GMTV etc over the next couple of weeks.

ex FOE Member

eating meat /dairy= eating gm

15.04.2004 20:17

The chances are that if you eat dairy or meat products the animals they were derived from were feed using GM crops. Its the backdoor in that everyone forgets about.

To avoid GM altogether (and to be a good environmentalist), go vegan.




16.04.2004 14:39

Sainsburys are supporting the growing of GM crops by selling dairy products which come from cattle fed on GM.

Products from GM animal fed cattle are NOT covered by the new legisaltion. To see what companies are labelling, and which are not...see

gm hater
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