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