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Shaw's Supermarkets Face
Anti-GE Pressure in New England

Greenpeace begins protests of Maine Shaw's supermarkets
7/18/02

By ANN KIM, Associated Press

Portland, Maine

Greenpeace brought its road tour against genetically engineered food to
Maine on Thursday with a brief and peaceful demonstration.
The environmental group is traveling to Shaw's and Star supermarkets around
New England to demand that the stores remove genetically engineered
ingredients from their store brand products.

According to Greenpeace, up to 70 percent of processed foods contain
genetically modified ingredients. Critics say the long-term effects of
gene-altered crops are unknown and that they will be nearly impossible to
eradicate once they've been introduced into the environment. Kim Foster, one
of the Greenpeace demonstrators at the Shaw's on Congress Street, said
Shaw's has the power to stop the use and sale of genetically altered food.

"It is untested, it is unlabeled and it is unsafe," Foster said.
Greenpeace said it is targeting Shaw's and Star markets because their parent
company is perpetuating a dangerous double standard that protects Europeans
while putting American consumers at risk.

J. Sainsbury, which is based in the United Kingdom, has removed genetically
engineered ingredients from its store brands in Europe while keeping them in
store brands sold in the United States.

Shaw's spokesman Bernard Rogan said the chain believes biotech foods are
safe and that their regulation is up to the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration.

The FDA's position is that genetically modified ingredients are just as safe
as those produced by conventional methods.

Just because J. Sainsbury removed gene-altered food from its European stores
doesn't mean Shaw's should have to follow suit, Rogan said from the chain's
corporate offices in West Bridgewater, Mass.

"First of all, it's a totally different government structure. This is the
United States, not the United Kingdom," Rogan said, adding that the FDA's
European counterparts have done an "abysmal job."

In Portland, activists inflated a 20-foot ear of "mutant corn" in the Shaw's
parking lot. Several others - two in fake biohazard suits - handed out
leaflets and gathered signatures from shoppers.

The group left within an hour, after two police officers arrived and issued
a trespassing notice. The notice meant that Greenpeace would be subject to
criminal trespassing charges without warning if it returns to any Shaw's
store in Portland, according to Sgt. Peter Wentworth.

Demonstrations were planned in Ellsworth on Friday and Lewiston on Saturday.
The group was gone by the time Jennifer Desrosiers of Falmouth made her way
through the store's produce section. She said she didn't realize that
genetically engineered food was not labeled as such.

"I have six children and I wouldn't want to be feeding them all sorts of
artificial things," she said. "That's scary. I kind of expect that if I'm
buying produce it's natural.

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