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Safeway and Concerned Customers Disagree About GE

These comments were exchanged between a customer concerned about Safeway's GE foods and a Safeway Customer Service Representative

Customer's Initial Comments: I am learning about Genetically Enginered Food and I am concerned about their effects on our health, family farms, and  enviornment.  I want to see genetically engineered food removed from  our supermarket shelves and urge you to take immediate steps towards  this goal.  To renew my confidence in your stores you could start by  making all the products bearing the safeway label free of genetically  enginered ingredients, as almost all of Europes supermarkets have done.

 I would also appreciate effort to increase the number of products that do not contain genetically enginered foods and are labled as such in  your stores.  I use to be a Safeway shopper and based on my knowledge  now I have stopped going to Safeway along with my friends and family.   Please make the effort to address this issue so that we can start going to Safeway again.

Regards, XXXXX

Safeway Customer Service Representative's Reply:

Dear Ms. XXXXX:

 We received your e-mail voicing concerns with the selling of genetically modified foods. We actively support our customers' interests in food safety. We also believe consumers have a right to relevant information about the food  they buy, so they can make informed purchasing decisions. However, as a retailer, we are neither qualified nor entitled to determine food regulations and labeling requirements. That responsibility properly  lies with the governmental agencies established for those purposes.

 As you may know, biotechnology is an umbrella term covering a vast variety of processes for using living organisms (such as plants,  animals and microbes) or any part of these organisms to create new or improved products.  Understandably, the goal of biotechnology is to provide a less expensive and more nutritious food supply. Biotechnology is often divided into old and new varieties.  The older forms include plant and animal  breeding and fermentation, which are based on the use of whole living  organisms.  The newer biotechnology's use parts of living organisms,  manipulating the chromosomes or DNA strands, or the genetic sequences that control specific traits, which is where the term genetic modification term comes into play.

 Please realize that as a retailer, we have no influence over the methods used by product manufacturers and growers to produce the food  we offer for sale.  It is consumer demand that determines the products  we carry.  We rely on academic and regulatory agencies to determine  which products and processes are safe.  The USDA and the FDA require  regulatory review of all food developed by biotechnology. Consumer  safety is the paramount consideration of all their efforts in this  area.  If you have not expressed your views to the FDA, we encourage  you to do so.

 If you have any additional concerns or questions please feel free to e-mail us at, or contact our customer service  center at 1-877-723-3929 and one of our associates will be happy to  assist you.  When you call or write, please use reference number  XXXXX so that we can access your account.

 Thank you for continuing to shop at Safeway .


 Sherry Mariscal Customer Service Representative


Customer's Final Response:

Dr. Ms. Mariscal

I was surprised by your response.  You must think that I am not a logical  human being and therefore you can send me a response that does not address  my question and at the same time portrays an untrue image of what Safeway  can do to change their stance on GMO foods.

My email was regarding your own "Safeway" brand and the expansion of non GMO  foods supplied by Safeway.  Both of these items Safeway has complete control  over.  It is your choice what you put on your shelves, not the governments.   All Safeway has to do is say - "We won't accept GMO foods in our stores".   It is blatantly untrue that you cannot change your own brand to be GMO free  or that you cannot demand your suppliers provide you with non GMO food.

When supermarkets and food producers in Europe were first challenged by  consumers to eliminate or label GE foods, the biotech and food industries  responded that doing so would take years and years and would lead to higher  food prices. However, as consumer pressure mounted, a few companies  responded.

These companies, like Iceland Foods (one of the largest grocers in Britain)  and Kraft Jacobs Suchard (the European branch of Kraft Foods) told suppliers  that they would no longer accept GE ingredients for their products. Soon more and more companies followed suit, and in less than three years nearly  every major grocer and food producer in Europe had eliminated GE food -- and  even with GE labeling laws in place, food costs to consumers did not go up  at all.

I have forwarded your email response on to Mr. Steven A. Burd, CEO, Safeway,  Inc. for a response and will look for a response by you to my original  question regarding Safeway changing their own "Safeway" brand to non GMO and  not accepting GMO products from your suppliers.  I would appreciate a  response to my question and not rhetoric regarding the government and your  non involvement in the food that you supply.

I have stopped shopping at Safeway as have all of my friends, family and co  workers.  Each of them have sent emails and discussed with all of their  friends and associates the issue of Safeway and your unwillingness to change  your own brand to non GMO and not accept GMO foods in your stores.  I truly  hope that the management of Safeway will change it stance and take the  responsibility that is yours of ensuring the quality of the food that is sold in your stores.  Until that time we will not be shopping at Safeway.



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