Rejection of GE food spreads in Eastern Europe

Press release - 18 October, 2005
Greenpeace today published evidence that consumers and food producers in Poland and Russia have become strong opponents against genetically engineered (GE) food. In Poland, an opinion poll commissioned by Greenpeace shows that 76% of Polish consumers do not wish to eat food products that contain GE ingredients, such as GE soya and GE maize (1). The Russian Consumers’ Guide (2) reveals more than 450 food companies in the country that have adopted a GE free policy, among them are well known international brand names, such as Nestlé and Coca-Cola.

The data reinforces earlier reports of consumer rejection of GE food, such as the study by the European Commission showing that only 14% of the European population believes that GE food is safe (3).

"Consumers all over Europe, east and west, are applying common sense and rejecting the genetic experiment with their food," said Geert Ritsema of Greenpeace International GE campaigner.

Greenpeace also published a statement by the Russian Soy Union stating that at present there is no commercial production of GE soya on Russian territory and that the Union "supports a moratorium on the cultivation of transgenic soya in Russia" (4).

Maciej Muskat, Greenpeace Central Eastern Europe campaigner in Poland said: "The food industry has to respect the wishes of Polish consumers and take risky and unwanted GE products off the shelves."

Some international retailers, who operate in Poland, such as the French Géant, have double standards. In Western Europe they have a GE free policy, but in Poland their consumers get no such guarantees. "Such double standards for GE food are inexplicable and unacceptable. Companies must act immediately and apply the same policy across the whole of Europe," said Muskat.

Greenpeace will also step up its campaign against GE food in Russia. Over the last ten months the environmental organisation managed to get 40 Russian food companies to commit to a GE free policy. However, there are still more than 500 companies on the Russian red list in the market. Greenpeace will continue to put pressure on these companies to change their GE policy. Natalia Olefirenko of Greenpeace Russia said: "The Russian Consumer's Guide will be mailed free of charge to every Russian citizen who contacts Greenpeace."

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner +31 646 197 328Maciej Muskat Greenpeace CEE campaigner in Poland: + 48 509 058 651Natalia Olefirenko Greenpeace Russia campaigner +7 903 739 4956 Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications, +44 7801 212 960

Notes: (1) Opinion poll done by PBS on September 10-11th, 2005, on a representative sample of 1079 citizens: available in Polish and English from Greenpeace International (2) Russian Consumers’ Guide: (3) European Commission, Special Eurobarometer: Europeans, Science and Technology, June 2005, page 62-64: Eurobarometer was conducted between 3 January and 15 February 2005 in 32 European countries: the EU 25, the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey) and the so called EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switserland).(4) In a statement signed by their President Anatoly Ustyuzhanin the Russian Soy Union confirms that “There is currently no commercial production of genetically modified soy on the territory of the Russian Federation. The Soy Union supports a moratorium on the cultivation of transgenic soy in Russia, and promotes the development of production of foodstuffs manufactured from non-genetically modified plant raw materials cultivated in Russia”: full statement in Russian and English available from Greenpeace International.