Nestlé is feeding babies in China genetically engineered food

Press release - 2009-09-09
Greenpeace China is demanding that Nestlé, the world’s largest food manufacturer, immediately stop using genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in its baby food sold in China after independent tests showed that one of Nestlé’s baby rice cereals contained several GE ingredients.

Nestle baby food contains GE ingredients in China.

Greenpeace China is also condemning Nestlé for operating under double standards - the company has promised not to use GE ingredients in its products sold in the EU, Russia and Brazil but it continues to treat Chinese babies as guinea pigs by refusing to make the same commitment in China (including Hong Kong).

In August, Greenpeace sent a sample of Nestlé Baby Rice Cereal (rice with beef & vegetables) to an independent laboratory.  The sample tested positive for GE ingredients including 35s, NOS and Bt.

"Consumers in China do not want to eat GE food any more than their counterparts in Europe do, especially when it comes to baby food," said Fang Lifeng, Greenpeace China Food and Agriculture Campaigner.  "It is appalling that Nestlé is feeding GE food to Chinese babies."

The Bt gene found in the sample leads to production of a protein that was developed to kill certain insects; this gene acts like a pesticide. Scientific evidence shows that this protein may induce allergenic-like reactions in mice .  The Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, ranks infants as a "high risk group" for food safety problems. In its 2002 report on GE food, the Royal Society recommended that any GE ingredients in baby food "should be investigated most rigorously" .

As well as the baby food bought in China, Greenpeace has previously tested several food and drink products owned by Nestlé in Hong Kong, including Pak Fook branded soya milk, chocolate, baby food and a soup mix, and found them all to contain at least one GE ingredient.

"More than 140 companies in China, including major baby food producers like Heinz and Beingmate, have already committed to not using GE ingredients in their products.  As the world's number one food producer, Nestlé has to finally take responsibility and stop harming the environment and risking people's health. It has to start listening to their customers' demands and commit to stop selling GE food in China," Fang added.

Companies that have said they will stop using GE ingredients in China include internationally known brands such as Kraft, Wyeth, Mead Johnson, Wrigley and Lipton, as well as Chinese companies including large soy sauce producers in southern China.

Greenpeace stands for positive change through action to defend the natural world and promote peace. We are a non-profit organisation with a presence in 40 countries. To maintain its independence, Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations but relies on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants. www.greenpeace.org.cn

VVPR info:

Contact:

Hans Xu: Media Officer, Greenpeace China
+86-10-65546931 ext 123; +86-13401098073;
Hans.Xu@ greenpeace.org

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