A national campaign to rid grocery stores of genetically
engineered (GE) foods got its start today when Shaw's/Star Market
was the target of a protest over its use of these controversial
ingredients. Consumers joined Greenpeace and Clean Water Action,
both members of the GE-Free Markets Coalition, in demanding that
Shaw's/Star Market ("Shaw's") remove controversial and untested GE
ingredients from its store brand products. The protesters conveyed
their message in front of the Allston, Mass., store with a banner
reading "Stop Genetically Engineered Food" and by handing out
pamphlets outlining the health and environmental risks of GE foods.
The group says it will continue to pressure the grocery chain at
stores around the region until it commits to going GE-free.
"Shaw's customers need to know that they don't have to buy the
lie," said Linda Setchell of Clean Water Action in Boston. "These
experimental foods are untested and unwanted, and we're here
calling people to action to get them out of our grocery
Genetic testing requested by the coalition found that four
Shaw's brand products tested contained genetically engineered
ingredients. Those products testing positive included Shaw's Brand
Crispy Corn Puffs cereal, Shaw's Brand Yellow Corn Chips, Shaw's
Brand Complete Pancake and Waffle Mix, and Shaw's Brand Taco
Shaw's parent company, UK-based J Sainsbury, has already stopped
using GE ingredients in its food due to consumer demands. According
to coalition representative Beverly Thorpe, Shaw's has a
responsibility to "end this double standard" and offer the same
assurances of GE-free food to its American consumers.
Thorpe adds that Shaw's ability to get GE foods off its shelves
is clear from its boast that it has control of its products "from
the field to the supermarket." Also, 40 percent of Shaw's foods are
store brand products over which they have the most control.
In addition to the protest in Boston, consumers and activists
demonstrated at Shaw's and Star Markets in Vermont, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island and Maine. Students with MASSPIRG also handed out
flyers and postcards calling on Shaw's to go GE-free.
Last November, pressure from the coalition caused the grocery
chain Trader Joe's to stop using genetically engineered foods in
its private label products. In announcing its plan to go GE-free,
Trader Joe's said its policy change was the result of "talking with
our customers," and finding that "it is clear that if given the
opportunity, the majority of our customers would prefer to have
products made without genetically engineered ingredients."
The GE-Free Markets Coalition is advising shoppers to:
let Shaw's/Star know they don't want genetic experiments in
buy organic and whole, unprocessed foods;
become informed shoppers by reading labels and identifying foods
that are commonly engineered, like corn, soy, and canola or cotton
and visit www.cleanwaterfund.org/safefoods