Ge activists make themselves heard in Rome

Top food executives: hearing the message?

Feature story - June 16, 2004
Attendees of the World Food Business Summit in Rome, Italy were 'welcomed' today by hundreds of audio messages from consumers in all 25 EU nations saying that they didn't want GE in their food.

Activists at the World Food Business Summit in Rome, Italy say no to GMOs

The recording was blasted into the conference at the Hilton Hotel, which is being attended by the world's top food executives. The recording was in over 20 languages so our friends at the top can have no excuses about misunderstanding the message.

To drive the point home our activists also abseiled down from the Hilton roof with banners reading 'GE Food is bad business' while others representing the 25 EU nations were outside the summit carrying the message, 'Listen to consumers: No to GMOs in our food, feed and fields'

A group of interested delegates came out to see what the action was about, however our activists noticed that they had covered up their identity badges. Whether the delegates did this because they didn't want their company to be associated with such an activity is unclear. One thing is for sure though transparency with regard to GE is not part of their corporate language.

It is not just in Europe that consumers don't want to eat GE, recent Deloitte research on US consumer attitudes found that 67 percent of US consumers are concerned about eating GE food.

"Poll after poll has shown that a majority of consumers prefer GE-free food, and an even bigger majority of consumers want GE food to at least be labelled, including in China and the US," commented Federica Ferrario of Greenpeace Italy.

"What we never see is consumers demanding GE food, begging the million dollar question: how come the global food industry isn't doing more to make sure supply meets demand rather than force feeding GE food to consumers?"

The global food industry often acts as a barrier to the introduction of GE labelling legislation by claiming that sourcing non-GE ingredients is next to impossible or that GE labelling is unfeasible or prohibitively expensive. These claims are totally inaccurate and misleading to consumers. They only serve to hide the fact that non-GE ingredients are, or can be, plentiful and that GE labelling, far from being impossible, has been implemented in Europe for years and has not resulted in any consumer-end price increase.

The US government, while attacking European GE labelling and safety legislation via the WTO, is denying its own citizens the basic right to know when GE ingredients are used in their food.

This policy is supported by the main food trade association and its members, many of whom are present at the Rome meeting. They insist on being dishonest about the realities of GE labelling and sourcing non-GE ingredients.

"US and Canadian companies along with their trade associations should stop deliberately obstructing the introduction of GE labelling legislation in North America. What are they scared of? Do they believe that consumers in the U.S. will reject GE food in the same way European consumers are showing today, if they are given the choice?" said our international GE campaigner Lindsay Keenan.

Find out more

- Click here to hear a sample of the messages sent to the Rome summit from these countries.(Italy, UK, The Netherlands, Spain (Castillano), France, Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Spain (Catalan), Hungary, Portugal, Marta, Slovenia, Sweden)

- Read the letter presented to the delegates in Rome from Greenpeace.

- Check out what is happening in your country

- For all the latest GE news click here

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