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Trader Joe's Supermarket Chain Goes GE Free After Pressure Campaign by Greenpeace, OCA & Other Groups

 

Trader Joe's Supermarket Chain Goes GE Free After Pressure Campaign by Greenpeace, OCA & Other Groups

Grocery Chain Trader Joe's Drops Gene-Altered Food

Shift Away From GE Food Goes Mainstream With Company's Announcement Move Follows Year-Long Campaign by Greenpeace and Other Groups

Los Angeles, CA, November 14, 2001 - A year-long campaign to force Trader Joe's to drop its use of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in its store brand products ended today as the mainstream grocery chain announced it would do just that, "effective immediately." According to the company statement, "...we will work with any new vendor to produce private label products for Trader Joe's without genetically engineered ingredients. Our goal for existing private label products is to have all such products reformulated, if necessary, and certified within one year." Eighty-five percent of the products sold at Trader Joe's stores will be affected by this policy change as they carry the company name brand.

The company says the change is the result of "talking with our customers," and finding that "it is clear ... that if given the opportunity, the majority of our customers would prefer to have products made without genetically engineered ingredients."

"This announcement marks the first time a mainstream grocery chain has dropped genetically engineered ingredients in response to consumer demand," said Heather Whitehead of the Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaign. "By responding to its customers, Trader Joe's has set an industry standard and has helped put other mainstream retailers on notice."

During an exit strategy discussion with a Greenpeace representative, a Trader Joe's spokesperson acknowledged that 90 to 95 percent of customers said they wanted the chain to stop using genetically engineered ingredients.

Trader Joe's has almost 200 stores in 15 states located primarily on the East and West Coasts. The company sells mainly its own brand products and a good selection of organic and natural foods. Its two main competitors are Safeway and Whole Foods. Whole Foods has already gone non-GE in its store brand products.

"Greenpeace will be looking at other retailers still using genetically engineered foods to determine where to apply pressure next," added Whitehead. "With Trader Joe's getting rid of gene-altered ingredients, grocery chains in the U.S. can no longer say, 'We can't do it in this country.'"

Greenpeace, along with several grassroots groups that formed the GE-Free Market Coalition, have focused attention on Trader Joe's for the past year. The coalition includes GE-Free L.A, Organic Consumers Association, GE-Free Marin, NW RAGE, BAN NY, Genetic Engineering Action Network, GeneWise (Chicago), and the Boston Safe Foods Campaign. Thousands of consumers around the country have participated in the effort by sending faxes, e-mails and letters to the company, and by protesting outside Trader Joe's stores in over 20 cities.

 

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TRADER JOE'S ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

MONROVIA, CA NOVEMBER 13, 2001. Over the last several months, we at Trader Joe's have been talking with our customers, reviewing food production methods with our vendors and studying the issues related to genetically engineered foods. While there is a great deal of passion regarding this matter among customers and the public at large, it is clear to us that if given the opportunity, the majority of our customers would prefer to have products made without genetically engineered ingredients.

Accordingly, we announce today a change in our approach to products in our Trader Joe's label (private label products). Effective immediately, we will work with any new vendor to produce private label products for Trader Joe's without genetically engineered ingredients. Our goal for existing private label products is to have all such products reformulated, if necessary, and certified within one year.

We will develop a program of random testing to verify the certifications and on-going compliance of our vendors. However, there is no system in the United States to completely guard against "adventitious contamination" from the genetic drift by genetically engineered crop to non-genetically engineered crops. Therefore, it is not possible for any supplier or retailer to realistically offer any guarantee that their products are "GMO-free."

Currently, there are no recognized U.S. government standards regarding the labeling of genetically engineered foods. We encourage our customers to write to their congressional representatives, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to let them know how you feel about genetic engineering of the food supply and the lack of labeling standards for such products. Only by developing a national standard related to this issue can food retailers and suppliers provide customers with products and information so they can make informed choices when purchasing food for themselves and their families.

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