Safeway Supermarkets Under
Pressure on Frankenfoods Issue

Contra Costa Times (California)
March 7, 2002



A major international environmental organization is asking Safeway shoppers
to pressure the grocer into removing genetically engineered ingredients from
its food.

Greenpeace said Wednesday it will launch a campaign against the
Pleasanton-based grocery giant next week. It decided to target Safeway after
the grocer failed to respond to the organization's request for a meeting
about a month ago. The genetically modified foods on Safeway's shelves are
approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Greenpeace and other
groups oppose them because they say they fear the foods may have harmful
effects on humans and nature.

"It's not OK because it's fundamentally altering nature in ways we don't
understand and can't predict," said Jeanne Merrill, a Greenpeace campaigner
in San Francisco. She said the foods include most products made with corn,
soy, canola and cotton seed products, which are in as much as 70 percent of
processed foods.

Safeway spokesman Brian Dowling said the grocer uses the same products as
most other retailers and relies on the federal government to set food safety
standards. He said he does not recall receiving correspondence from
Greenpeace, but that the company has dealt with other groups on this same

"We, the food industry collectively, find no reason to alter product
selection," Dowling said.

"I don't think the vast majority of our customers put a lot of credence
in what is being claimed by interest groups like this," he added.
This is not the first time activists have targeted the nation's third-largest
grocery chain for selling food that contains genetically altered ingredients.
But this particular effort is noteworthy because of Greenpeace's scope
and the fact that the group singled out Safeway and not its rivals Kroger
and Albertson's.

Merrill did not know whether Safeway was less responsive than Kroger and
Albertson's, the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 grocers respectively. The campaign
does include grocery chains in other parts of the country, including
Massachusetts-based Shaw's Supermarkets.

As part of the campaign, Greenpeace plans to put representatives outside
East Bay Safeway stores as early as next week to pitch their cause to
shoppers. They're not asking for a boycott, but for shoppers to write
letters or complain to Safeway.

Greenpeace won concessions from Trader Joe's last year after a similar

Safeway pulled its store-brand taco shells off the shelves in 2000 after
tests showed they contained genetically engineered corn used to feed
animals. But that corn hadn't been approved for human consumption because
of unresolved questions about whether it could cause allergic reactions in

Janet Adamy covers retail and travel. Reach her at 925-943-8263 or

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