Global food industry leaders must listen to their consumers - Don't sell GE food!

Press release - 16 June, 2004
Hundreds of messages rejecting GMOs in the food chain, from European consumers have been delivered to food industry executives assembled for the World Food Business Summit in Rome. The consumer messages from the 25 EU nations, gathered during the Greenpeace Global Campaign against GE, are being broadcast an external sound system by activists into the conference location, the Hilton Hotel.

Activists at the World Food Business Summit in Rome, Italy hang a banner on the Hilton saying no to GMOs

Activists inside the hotel have abseiled from the roof with a banner reading 'GE Food is bad business'. Protestors representing the 25 nations are outside the Summit carrying the message, 'Listen to consumers: No to GMOs in our food feed and fields'.

"Poll after poll have consistently 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 U.S. 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?" said Federica Ferrario of Greenpeace Italy.

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 fully implemented in Europe for years and has not resulted in any consumer-end price increase.

The U.S. 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. That policy is supported by the main food trade association and its members many of whom are being dishonest about the realities of GE labelling and of sourcing non-GE ingredients.

"U.S. 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?" continued Ferrario.

While the focus today is GE food policy, Fair Trade is one item on the agenda of the conference and Greenpeace is using this opportunity to highlight better business practices.

"These companies should implement Fair Trade principles and GE Free Ecological Agricultural standards in an effort to reduce the negative social and environmental problems inherent with their current business practice," said Greenpeace International GE Campaigner Lindsay Keenan.

Greenpeace has released shoppers' guides in over 20 countries, including Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, China, Thailand, Brazil, Chile, Australia and New Zealand to help consumers avoid GE food.