Seventy-Eight Food Brands Go GE-Free in China

Feature Story - 2004-04-25
Seventy-eight food brands today announced they are now officially committed to not selling genetically engineered (GE) food in China. These non-GE brands are listed in the first ever Shoppers' Guide to Avoiding GE Food in mainland China, which was launched by Greenpeace today. The announcement marks increasing market rejection of GE food in the world's largest food market.

Greenpeace launches Shopper's Guide to aviod GE food in China

The companies now committed to eliminating GE ingredients include internationally known brand names such as Danone, Heinz, Lay's, Lipton, Lotte and many others. "Companies are committed to non-GE because GE food is unwanted," said Sze Pang Cheung, Greenpeace China Campaign Manager. "GE food brings no benefits to consumers, but there are health risks and irreversible environmental threats. China is currently threatened by imports of GE soya while conventional soya has been consumed in China for 5000 years. Our commonsense should tell us which is safer."

According to the latest survey commissioned by Greenpeace in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou , 87% of respondents demand that food producers label their GE products. If foods are labeled, 40% of the respondents said they would choose non-GE food over GE food, while 24% would choose otherwise. 70% of the respondents said they would lose confidence in a brand if its products were found to contain GE ingredients. In contrast, 40% of the respondents would increase their confidence in brands that have committed to a non-GE policy.

"The GE industry is talking about 'Europeanisation' of the global attitude to GE food, and we see it is happening in China," said Sze Pang Cheung. While the Chinese government has lately given in to US pressure and granted safety permits to import GE products, Chinese consumers seem to be worried. Last year, a young mother from Shanghai, Zhu Yanling, sued food giant Nestlé for not labelling the GE product which she had been buying for her two-year old baby.

To mark the official launch of the first Shoppers Guide in China, Greenpeace volunteers handed out the Guide to consumers in the busy shopping areas of Shanghai and Guangzhou to inform consumers of the non-GE products on the market. The Guide is also available for download from sina.com, the most popular Chinese portal site which has more than 23 million hits everyday.

Notes to editor:

(i) 50 producers (with 78 brands) sent formal statements to Greenpeace confirming they do not to use GE ingredients in their products sold in China.

(ii) The consumer survey was commissioned by Greenpeace and carried out in February by Research International. Telephone interviews were conducted with 600 respondents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in February 2004.

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