Alabama Grandmothers on Trial for Informing Public About Frankenfoods
For Immediate Release November 20, 2002 Decatur, Alabama -
Two grandmothers will go to court today to defend their right to let
consumers know that they are eating risky genetically engineered (GE)
food. Gerry Coffey, 62, and Jean Tune, 79, were arrested by local police
after they refused to leave the parking area of a Kroger supermarket where
they were petitioning and handing out information to shoppers about the
risks of genetically engineered food. The women are a part of a national
supermarket campaign, led by the GE-Free Markets Coalition and Greenpeace,
to demand that grocery store chains eliminate the use of genetically engineered
food in store brand products. "I saw nothing wrong with telling Kroger's
shoppers that 60% of the processed food they buy contains genetically
engineered ingredients," said Gerry Coffey. "I had no idea Kroger management
would have us arrested for telling the truth about their food. " Greg
Reeves, a local Decatur attorney, will defend the grandmothers, pro bono.
"The people of Alabama should be able to speak directly to shoppers about
genetically engineered food without fear of arrest," said Reeves. Genetically
engineered food is on our supermarket shelves with no warning to consumers.
GE food is created when foreign genes from bacteria, viruses, plants and
animals are inserted into common food crops like corn, soy, canola and
cotton to make them resistant to herbicides or pests.
GE food can cause novel food toxins, food allergies, increased toxic
pesticide use and environmental pollution. The Food and Drug Administration
does not require long term health or environmental safety testing of genetic
experiments. Furthermore, there is no warning to consumers that they are
eating these gene-altered foods. "It's a sad day when grandmothers are
arrested for letting people know the truth about genetically engineered
food on their supermarket shelves," said Jeanne Merrill, Campaigner with
the Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaign.
"We should be arresting the biotech company executives that are contaminating
our food, not peaceful grandmothers." In March 2002, Greenpeace and the
GE-Free Markets Coalition launched a campaign to demand that supermarkets,
like Kroger's, stop their use of GE food in store brand products. Supermarket
chains like Whole Foods, Wild Oats and most recently, Trader Joe's, have
pledged not to use GE food ingredients in their own brand products. An
ABC poll conducted last year found the 93% of Americans want labeling
of genetically engineered food and over 50% of those people would avoid
GE food if given the option. "They need to know that consumers in Europe
refuse to be guinea pigs in this genetic experiment," said Gerry Coffey.
"That is not so here at home in the land of the free and the home of the
brave. Blind to the way they are being misused, most Americans are being
lead down the yellow brick road by being denied their basic right to know
about what's in their food." Gerry Coffey is a health educator and her
family farms cotton. Jean Tune recently started a community-supported,
organic farm. Both women are hoping to get the support of mothers and
concerned others on this important issue.