Cover page of the Shoppers' Guide to Avoding GE Food 2005
More food producers have joined the growing 'Green Team' and have agreed not to use genetically engineered ingredients in their products. "This year food producers have committed to go GE-free in 248 brand names. The number of brand has doubled compared to 120 brand names in 2003." said Ms. Apple Chow. "The food producers are very eager to react to consumers' demand whereas the government is slow and indifferent." she added.
To mark the launch of this fourth edition, Legco members, Mr. Fred Li and Ms. Chan Yuen Han, used the guide to show the consumers food brands containing GE ingredients in Mongkok this afternoon and help the consumers avoid buying GE food during their shopping on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Genetically engineered food is the food that contains ingredients extracted from plants or animals into which a gene from another organism has been inserted. GE foods are not evaluated on their long-term safety before reaching the shelves. The effects of prolonged consumption are uncertain and their safety has been hotly debated. In order to protect consumers' rights, over 35 countries or regions including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the European Union have implemented mandatory labeling systems.
In January 2000 and June 2003, the Legislative Council supported, by a majority of votes, a motion demanding mandatory labeling. Yet the Hong Kong SAR government has been going against the public by refusing to implement mandatory labelling. In contrast, the China's central government has launched a comprehensive legislative system to regulate and label GE foods since 2002. Consumers in Mainland China enjoy the rights of informed choice over GE foods.
"GE foods should also be regulated and included in the recent escalating food safety control system in Hong Kong." said Mr. Fred Li. "Our government should be responsible and react to the public's overwhelming wish for mandatory labeling." Ms. Chan Yuen Han added.
Greenpeace launches the fourth edition of it's 'Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GE Food' in a busy Mongkok shopping street supported by LegCo members Chan Yuen Han and Fred Li ahead of the mid-Autumn Festival. More brands than ever before have gone 'GE-Free' including famous mooncake brands Wing Wah and Kee Wah.
Greenpeace, in a watchdog role, has been publishing and distributing the complimentary "Shoppers' Guide to Avoiding GE Food" since 2001 to provide consumers information on the GE ingredients of food products in the market so that they can make the right choices.
Greenpeace sent letters to food companies and distributors asking for their policy on GE food and clarifying whether or not their brands contain GE ingredients. The guide was compiled based on their responses. After the guide is published, Greenpeace will regularly sample food products to check whether food producers have stuck to their promise.
This year Greenpeace sent letters enquiring about the ingredients in 546 food items across 450 brands. 248 brands promised not to use GE ingredients. Famous brands like Master Kong, Ovaltine, Trappist, Eatwell, Mr. Juicy and Watsons have joined the 'Green Team'. Greenpeace will be keeping an eye on the irresponsible food companies who didn't commit to going GE free like Nestle, Four Seas and Calbee.
In April 2005, Greenpeace discovered illegal GE rice being grown and sold in Hubei, China. A rice category has been added to the guide as a reaction. This year Greenpeace has printed 80,000 copies of the guide. Consumers can pick up copies of the guide in Bookstores like Greenfield, Chingwin, Bookland and the estate offices of the Sino Estates Management.
Apple Chow, Campaigner (Food & Agriculture of Greenpeace) 2854 8399
Azure Ho, Media Officer 2854-8326
We have published pdf version of the guide as well as a list of distribution outlets where you can pick up copies of the guide. Visit our supermarket guide for details.