Nader Calls for a Moratorium on GE Foods & Crops

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Press Release
October 27, 2000
Contact: Jake Lewis or Tom Adkins (202) 265-4000

Nader Calls for Labels on Genetically Modified Foods, Seeds -
Demands Clinton not bow to Aventis

Des Moines, IA. October 27-Ralph Nader today called for legislation to
require labels on all genetically altered products, and a reevaluation of
public policy towards genetically altered life forms. Polling has shown that
about 90 percent of the public supports labeling on genetically-engineered
foods.

"Consumers have a right to know what they are buying when they go to the
supermarket, and farmers have a right to know what they are planting in
their fields," Nader told reporters. "Farmers were not even informed that
StarLink had not been approved for human consumption until Aventis began
contacting them in an attempt to insure that the corn was not mixed with
shipments bound for use in food produced for humans. We need to devolve
power from corporate agribusiness to the farmers and consumers who should
rightfully control food production in this country."

Nader said that the recent taco shell recall provides an example of the
potential dangers of genetically altered crops to consumers, some of whom
could expect to suffer allergic reactions to the modified corn, and demanded
that President Clinton not give into calls from Aventis and other food
industry companies to have StarLink exempted from the current regulatory
guidelines. "Such a move would only reward the biotech industry for its
malfeasance," Nader said.

"Genetic engineering of food has far outrun the science that must be its
first governing discipline. Many unknowns attend the insertion of genes
across species, from ecological risks to food allergies," Nader said. "We
need a dramatic shift away from the industry-dominated laissez-faire
non-regulation of GMOs." Nader has specifically proposed:

- Halting release of genetically altered plants into the environment until
comprehensive, independent studies are performed as to environmental and
food safety risks under a regulatory framework
- Exempting life forms from the purview of patent laws in order to allow
broader research and safety testing opportunities by academia and government
- Placing liability for harm on the owners or licensees of biotechnology
patent rights in the event of damages caused by environmental release
- Labeling food containing any genetically altered ingredients

Nader also questioned why Iowa State University would enter into the
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a consortium of universities,
research centers, and biotechnology corporations, when their own scientists
have raised troubling questions about the safety of genetically modified
foods. "BIO is essentially a front for the agribusiness industry, opposing
any additional labeling, regulation, or oversight while supporting the
failed pro-globalization trade policies that have brought crisis to American
family farmers," Nader said. "This sort of alliance will serve to crowd out
the possibility of research emphasis on organic, sustainable,
environmentally-friendly farming methods."