Global actions to stop Nestle from producing GE food

Feature Story - 2002-06-06
Hong Kong joins Greenpeace global actions to stop "Habitual Criminal" Nestle from producing GE food

Yan Lingh Zhu from Shanghai traveled to Switzerland today to protest against the GMO policy of Nestlé. The mother of a three-year-old son asks Nestlé director Brabeck, to stop producing genetically modified food.

Consumers from three territories, including Hong Kong, today joined Greenpeace in an international effort to put pressure on Nestle to stop producing genetically engineered (GE) food.

In Hong Kong, Greenpeace activists used the nearly 10,000 petition postcards collected from consumers in the past few weeks to compose a gigantic "X" over the word - Nestle - in order to show the growing disapproval of GE food trespassing on the local food market.

The Hong Kong-leg of the worldwide protest, which also covered Thailand and Switzerland, was carried out at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. It was the first time that Hong Kong residents participated in a global action against a food company.

"The fact that we have garnered signatures from nearly 10,000 consumers shows that the Hong Kong public have become sick and tired of the lack of action by both the government and food companies such as Nestle. The public clearly demand safeguards against GE food but their repeated calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears time after time over the past three years," said Sze Pang Cheung of Greenpeace China.

A recent survey commissioned by Greenpeace and conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, showed that 70.5% of Hong Kong people would choose GE-free food over those laced with GE ingredients while about 60% said they would change brand if a company was repeatedly found to be producing food with GE ingredients.

Over the past three years, Greenpeace has tested many Nestle products for GE materials, six of which have proven positive. They are Pak Fook Fresh Soya Milk, Pak Fook Beancurd Dessert, Pak Fook Hi-calcium Life Soya Milk, Nestle Infant Cereal (apple flavoured), Nestle Crunch Chocolate, and a Nestle ice-cream product Tropical Sundae.

"In the eyes of the public, Nestle is the biggest habitual criminal in food production because it remains unrepentant despite being caught red-handed repeatedly with producing GE food. Nestle is in effect committing a crime against consumers by literally force-feeding them with these unwanted monster foods. This immoral and irresponsible act must be stopped immediately as Nestle should not be allowed to continue trampling on the rights of consumers to access GE-free food," stressed Sze.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace representatives from around the world had met with Nestle at its Switzerland headquarters last month with disappointing results.

"Nestle still doesn't recognise there is a problem with double standards as the Asian region continues to be inundated with GE foods that are rejected by their European counterparts, and they don't see a problem with them acting like food dictators ignoring the demands of millions of consumers in this part of the world. Nestle has the worst record and the worst attitude. Greenpeace will continue to pressurise Nestle towards going GE-free and to show them that consumers will not take this anymore and their voices will be heard," Sze added.

GE food labelling is common practice in Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and in EU countries. Greenpeace opposes the genetic manipulation of food because of its potential danger to the environment and human health. There are concerns that GE foods may trigger new allergic reactions, affect antibiotic treatments, or alter nutritional value.