60% of Food Brands Refused Non-GE Committment

Press release - 2008-04-29
Greenpeace launches the latest “Shoppers’ Guide to Avoiding GE Food 2008”. Amongst nearly 600 common food brands in the market, only around 40% pledged not to use GE ingredients. In the categories of chips and biscuits, even a lower record of 20% has committed. The government’s delaying policy to implementing a mandatory labelling system is causing Hong Kong citizens to consume GE food unwittingly.

Greenpeace activists categorize committed and non-committed products to green and red shopping carts respectively in a supermarket, with reference to the latest “Shoppers’ Guide to Avoiding GE Food 2008”.

Greenpeace activists categorize committed and non-committed products to green and red shopping carts respectively in a Causewaybay supermarket this morning, with reference to the latest "Shoppers' Guide to Avoiding GE Food 2008". Green refers to brands which promise not to use GE ingredients whereas red points to those which refuse to commit. This serves to alert consumers to choose cautiously so as to avoid ending up buying GE food. Greenpeace distribute the guides to the public after the action aiming at helping consumers to make the right choice.

Greenpeace wrote to food manufactures and distributors enquiring for their policy on GE ingredients and asking them for a written commitment which only using non-GE ingredients between August to December 2007. The investigation includes 17 food types, varied from baby food, confectionary, ice-cream, to chips, drinks, rice and oil. Out of the total 589 brands, 235 committed to using non-GE ingredients.

New-comers to green commitment include Yili Milk, Blue Diamond Almonds, etc. Brands such as Extra and Airwaves which have previously pledged in the previous version turned their backs on consumers this time and refuse to non- GE promises, thus disgraced to the Red category. Other big food companies such as Nestle and Campbell Soup have never nodded to giving up GE ingredients for 8 consecutive years, excusing that the Hong Kong government has no regulation on GE food.

"Currently the Hong Kong government imposes 'zero regulation' on GE food. Food companies which import or use GE ingredients that are not approved and are not required to label them. Consumers have no way to tell," said Food Safety Campaigner of Greenpeace Chow Yuen Ping.

Indeed, Hong Kong has been campaigning for mandatory GE labelling for over 8 years. The government is going to announce the review on "Guidelines on Voluntary Labelling of Genetically Modified Food" and make recommendations on respective regulations in June. "We hope this is the last time we launch the guide. Only with the expedient implementation of mandatory labelling can consumers in Hong Kong be genuinely protected!" Chow Yuen Ping stressed.

Since 2001, Greenpeace has for 5 times published the "Shoppers' Guide to Avoiding GE Food", and has been closely monitoring food manufactures and distributors. Greenpeace sent letters to food companies requesting them to promise not to use GE ingredients. The guide was compiled based on their responses. This enlightens the public to market information on committed brands and enable them to make informed choices.

Copies of "Shoppers' Guide to Avoiding GE Food 2008" are available in G.O.D., Origins, LeSportsac, 2FT, Green Earth Society and Farmers' Market at Star Ferry Central Pier from today onwards, the public can also pick up the guide in Greenpeace office or download it from

www.greenpeace.org/foodguidehk

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