Health

Major U.S. Companies Drop Genetically Engineered Foods in Europe, Citing Consumer Fears
Survey Says Kellogg, Coke, Pepsi,
Kraft, Heinz, Others
Add to Growing List of Companies Going GE-Free
but not in U.S.

Neil Verlander
Friends of the Earth - U.K.
011 45 171 566 1649


Washington, DC--Most leading companies supplying food and drink to European consumers are turning their backs on genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and derivatives, a new survey by Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) today reveals. The survey's publication coincides with the launch of a new campaign by FoEE groups in twenty-two countries across Europe calling for a halt to the genetically modified organism (GMO) pollution of food and the environment.

The survey shows that most of the top food manufacturers are aware of opposition to GMOs throughout Europe and have been forced to take action. The same companies in the U.S., however, have yet to make take similar action.

"It's only a matter of time before these companies are forced to make the same commitment to consumers here at home," said Larry Bohlen, Safer Food -Safer Farms campaign director for Friends of the Earth, U.S. "If companies are feeling the heat from 22 European nations, wait until they start hearing from 50 American states."

Bohlen noted that legislation to ban or to label genetically engineered foods has been introduced in several states including Minnesota, California, Vermont and Maine, and just last week, the Boston City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to ban GE foods until they are labeled and subject to safety testing. Friends of the Earth contacted 21 of the world's top food and drink companies and asked them for their policy on GMO ingredients and derivatives in the food they sold in Europe:

* 16 said that they sourced ingredients from GMO-free crops. Most indicated that their derivatives were - or would shortly be from GMO-free crops as well;

* one, Unilever, said it was moving to a new system in Europe where "hardly any GMO ingredients will be used";

* one, Nestle, the biggest food manufacturer in Europe, said it supplied food made from GMO-free crops as far as practically possible, where the public demanded it - but were unable to list in which countries this policy operated.

* three did not reply.

Companies that said that they currently source all their ingredients from GMO-free crops for the food and drink they sell in Europe, include Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, Heinz, Mars, Danone, Kelloggs, Campbell Foods, Cadbury Schweppes and Kraft/ Jacobs/ Suchard. Almost all of these indicated that they also use GMO-free derivatives. And Europe's top fast food chain McDonald's Europe "have asked suppliers to source non-GM ingredients, additives and processing aids."

Liana Stupples, GMO campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This survey shows how food manufacturers are being forced to listen to European consumers increasingly concerned about potential health and environmental damage from GMO food and crops."

Today, at a Brussels press conference, Friends of the Earth Europe announced the launch of a new Europe-wide campaign to halt GMO pollution. FoEE groups in twenty-two countries across Europe will aim to safeguard for the people of Europe the right to choose GMO-free food, to grow GMO-free crops and to protect GMO-free habitats.

For direct quotes from corporate responses to the survey, please see the Friends of the Earth, U.S. website at www.foe.org

Friends Of The Earth
Europe GMO Foods Survey, 3/7/00

Friends of the Earth received replies from the following companies:

Nestle: "In those countries where consumers are reluctant to accept the use of GM crops as a source for ingredients, Nestle products do not contain these ingredients, in as far as practically possible".

Philip Morris [Kraft, Jacobs, Suchard]: "sourcing conventional, non-GM soya and maize based ingredients, including additives and flavours, controlled through a system of analysis...we also fully recognize and respect the fact that consumer acceptance of biotechnology is lower in Europe than in other parts of the world".

Unilever: The "situation in Europe is changing...[Unilever's new] European sourcing policy has to take into account the GM sensitivities in certain markets...this will mean that [in the whole of Europe] hardly any GM ingredients will be used."

Pepsi Cola: "Ingredients used in our products are not derived from genetically modified sources and no GMOs are used in our soft drink manufacturing process or in those of our ingredient suppliers in Europe...we will review and consider any new technologies and ingredients that have been approved by national and international health authorities, and accepted by consumers"

Coca Cola: "... does not use any ingredients that are genetically modified"

Diageo: Is made up of its drinks business (no information on GMO policy) and two food arms: Pillsbury - "None of our brands contain any ingredients derived from genetically modified crops which could fall within the labelling regulations in Europe. Recognising consumer concerns in Europe , we have been progressively removing ingredients and additives that could have been derived from GM crops, wherever it is technically feasible...for the last 18 months" and; Burger King -"in relation to the countries in Europe...Burger King has removed GM ingredients from its menu items". BK had no information on derivatives.

Mars: "Products do not contain ingredients or additives from GM sources"

Danone: "respecting consumer concerns was a priority for Danone therefore it has decided not to use such ingredients in its products sold in the EU." Danone told FoEE that this was the same position for derivatives.

Anheuser-Busch "For all our beer brands that we either brew in the UK or import into the European market, we use no GM ingredients. This includes Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Ice (and) Michelob"

Kirin Brewery "think about our consumer's preference as a top priority. Kirin Beer does not contain GM crops"

Heinz : "Where there is potential for GM material to be present, or where ingredients are derived from soya or maize, we source non-GM, identity preserved ingredients through carefully audited suppliers. In addition, independent testing is carried out. We continue to take every possible step to ensure that Heinz varieties remain free of ingredients derived from GM crops...we are also reviewing all ingredients in respect of GM-derived enzymes, and are already reviewing the use of GM animal feed"

Asashi Breweries: Asashi Beer Europe Ltd is "GMO-free"

Campbell Foods: "We respect the present concerns of consumers". Campbell's told FoEE that all its ingredients in Europe are from GMO-free crops. Derivatives would shortly follow.

Bestfoods: told FoEE that there are no notifiable GMO ingredients (soya and maize)in their products, but said there was no company policy on sourcing derivatives. Wouldn't put this in writing.

Seagram Spirits and wines: Products in Europe "contain no GMOs or DNA"

Kellogg's: "Kellogg is conscious of consumer preferences and does not use GM maize or soya ingredients or derivatives in its breakfast cereals sold in Europe...At present, our other grain-based morning foods such as Kellogg's Pop-tarts, Rice Krispies Squares and Nutri-Grain bars contain maize or soya derivatives produced from raw materials purchased on the world market...Kellogg is currently seeking non-GM sources for these ingredients and we hope to have completed this process by the end of the year."

Associated British Foods [ABF]: "A survey of our manufacturing operations confirms that this [the process of ensuring that products contain neither GMO ingredients nor derivatives of GMO crops] is now completed"

Cadbury Schweppes: Told Friends of the Earth that it is making every effort to ensure that all its ingredients and derivatives are from GMO-free crops.

Friends of the Earth also contacted McDonald's Europe - Europe's largest restaurant outlet. It said that "McDonald's in Europe have asked suppliers to source non-GM ingredients, additives and processing aids".

Please visit The Campaign's web site at http://www.thecampaign.org


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