October 26, 2002
NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TARGETS SUPERMARKETS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA
Hundreds of supermarkets are told "GE foods are a trick - not a treat."
San Francisco - A national campaign to rid grocery stores of genetically
engineered (GE) foods culminated today when hundreds of people throughout
North America joined the GE-Free Markets Coalition to protest against
supermarkets' use of genetically engineered ingredients in store brand
products. Today's events launched a week of action, in which coalition
members across the US and Canada will visit over 200 stores. Supermarkets
targeted in the campaign include Safeway, Shaw's in New England, Publix,
Food Emporium and Food Lion.
The coalition says it will continue to pressure supermarkets around the
country until they commit to going "GE-free". "We are calling on these
supermarkets to listen to their customers and do the right thing by removing
genetically engineered ingredients from their store brand products," said
Simon Harris of the Organic Consumers Association, "If Whole Foods, Wild
Oats and Trader can end their use of genetically engineered food, so can
other major supermarket chains." Last November, the GE-Free Markets Coalition
successfully pressured the supermarket chain Trader Joe's to stop using
genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in its store brand products.
In its announcement, Trader Joe's said its policy change was 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." "Recent
polls show that upwards of 90 percent of U.S. consumers want mandatory
labeling of GE foods so that they can avoid them. Americans clearly don't
want to eat genetically engineered foods," said Linda Setchell, Safe Foods
Campaign Coordinator of Clean Water Action.
In fact, an ABC News poll showed that barely more than a third of the
public believe GE foods are safe. " These supermarkets should listen to
their customers and rid their store brands of untested untested genetically
engineered food," said Setchell. This week of action is the largest to
date in what has become a growing movement over the last 2 years at major
supermarkets against GE foods.
Thousands of letters, postcards and phone calls have been sent to the
CEO's of these supermarkets since the campaign began. "GE foods are untested
and unregulated food experiments," said Heather Whitehead, Supermarket
Campaigner at Greenpeace. "Supermarkets must take the experiment off the
shelves and put it back into the lab." In New England, many consumers
are now signing a "Shaw's Pledge", pledging not to purchase any Shaw's
or Star Market store brands until they remove GE ingredients from their
product line. Shaw's and Star Market, both owned by GE-free UK company
J. Sainsbury, has been skirting the GE issue and their customers concerns
for over 2 years.
Earlier this month, a Shaw's customer survey released by coalition member
MassPIRG showed 68% of Shaw's shoppers want GE foods either labeled or
removed from their store brands. For more information go to: www.gefreemarkets.org
CONTACT: Alisa Arnett, Greenpeace Media (415) 407-9293 mobile; for local
contacts call Heather Whitehead (415) 999- 7404 mobile.