Shaw's/Star Markets Target of Anti-GE Food Campaign

Media release - March 12, 2002
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.

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 stores."

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 Dinner.

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 their food;

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 seed oil;

and visit www.cleanwaterfund.org/safefoods