Organic Consumers Association

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2003

Media Contacts:
Craig Minowa, Organic Consumers Association (320) 384-7764
Richard Caplan, Public Interest Research Group (202) 546-9707
Lisa Archer, Friends of the Earth (202) 783-7400 x190

Kraft Hit by Record
Number of Protests


Groups call for the removal of unlabeled, inadequately tested genetically engineered ingredients, ask Kraft Foods to join in the call for safety testing and labeling

Today organizations and activists across the country joined together in more than 250 cities across the United States and Canada calling on Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT) to remove genetically engineered ingredients from its products. Kraft Foods is the largest food and beverage company in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Altria, formerly Philip Morris Company. Many of Kraft's products are marketed to children, such as Lunchables, Oreo cookies, Capri Sun juice drinks, and Jello snacks. Many Kraft products have also been found to contain genetically engineered ingredients, which are not adequately safety tested, nor labeled.

"Kraft Foods needs to listen to its customers when it comes to genetically engineered foods," said Lisa Archer, grassroots coordinator for Friends of the Earth, a member group of the Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition. "The company is aware of the potential health and environmental risks of genetically engineered foods, yet they have refused to put public health first. The time to take action is now."

The Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition and allies are demonstrating at grocery stores and Kraft facilities around the country to draw attention to the public health and environmental concerns associated with genetically engineered foods and to inform consumers that Kraft products they are feeding to their families may contain genetically engineered ingredients that are neither adequately safety tested nor labeled.

The coalition has tested Kraft products several times, and recently discovered that Kraft products may be using less genetically engineered corn, in some cases none at all. While this is good news that the company may be headed in the right direction, they have made no public announcements. This week, as part of the fourth week of action targeting Kraft, people across the country are returning Kraft products to their local supermarkets, asking if the stores can guarantee the safety of these products, and whether or not they contain genetically engineered ingredients.

"Thanks to our testing, Kraft products have been found to contain genetically engineered ingredients, and consumers have a right to return food products that they deem unsafe," said Craig Minowa of the Organic Consumers Association, another coalition member group. "Though Kraft states that it is simply following FDA guidelines, until the FDA requires independent safety testing, people all over the world will remain justifiably concerned about engineered foods."

This is not the first time that Kraft has dealt with controversy overits use of genetically engineered ingredients in its products. By 1999, consumer demand in Europe forced Kraft Foods to remove genetically engineered ingredients from some of its well-known products, offering Europeans non-genetically engineered products. The company has yet to offer such alternatives in the United States.

Genetically Engineered Food Alert also pointed to Kraft's second round of problems with the use of genetically engineered crops, this time in the United States. In September of 2000, through independent testing, Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition discovered StarLink ™, a genetically engineered corn not approved for human consumption (because of concerns that it has characteristics of known allergens) in Taco Bell brand taco shells, a Kraft product. This finding resulted in Kraft recalling millions of boxes of taco shells and a switch by the company to white corn from yellow corn to avoid further StarLink™ contamination. Three of the most serious risks posed by genetically engineered foods are that they could trigger allergic reactions, contain toxins, and that experimental crops might contaminate the food supply as StarLink did three years ago.

"Just as Kraft has started to take steps to address the public health concerns with obesity, it should address the public health concerns associated with genetically engineered crops," stated Richard Caplan, advocate for the State PIRGs, a member group of the Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition. "Kraft can and should do the right thing and remove genetically engineered ingredients from its products, which would be a win for consumers, a win for the environment, and a win for the company."


Communications by the coalition to Kraft Foods as well as test results may be found at:

Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of health, consumer and environmental groups, supports the removal of genetically engineered ingredients from grocery store shelves unless they are adequately safety tested and labeled. The campaign provides web-based opportunities for individuals to express concern about genetically engineered food and fact sheets on health, environmental and economic information about genetically engineered food. The campaign is endorsed by more than 250 scientists, religious leaders, doctors, chefs, environmental and health leaders, as well as farm groups.

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