Greenpeace stages protest against Nestlé: Stop GMO contamination!

Press release - May 28, 2001
Greenpeace Southeast Asia today joined Greenpeace activists in Hong Kong in a pre-dawn action at the Nestle factory in Yuen Long, demanding an end to 'genetically engineered food contamination'.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia today joined Greenpeace activists in Hong Kong in a pre-dawn action at the Nestle factory in Yuen Long, demanding an end to 'genetically engineered food contamination'.

Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the entrance of the factory and decided to "close" Nestle this morning after the company repeatedly broke its promise to phase out GE ingredients in its food products.

In April 2000, Greenpeace found a highly popular Nestle baby food in Thailand, 'Cerelac' to contain genetically modified ingredients. "In Europe and other countries, Nestle claims that they are GE-free but here in Thailand, they admitted using GMOs and yet claim that it is completely safe for the consumers even to children. This is a revolting example of corporate double standards and a clear admission that Asia is being made dumping ground of GE food", says Auiaporn Suthontanyaorn of Greenpeace Southeast Asia speaking from a taped interview in Hong Kong.

Similarly in Hong Kong, Greenpeace found two Nestle products - fresh soya milk and a beancurd dessert both marketed under the brand Pak Fook - to contain GE ingredients, Monsanto's Roundup Ready-Soya during a 1999 testing. This year, Pak Fook fresh soya milk has again been found to contain the same GE ingredients in two separate tests while another Nestle product - Pak Fook Hi-calcium Life Soya Milk - also has GE materials.

In a letter to Greenpeace China, Nestle stated: "We are in the process of substituting GMO derived ingredients in any remaining products where possible..." In the same correspondence, it said "...we support a responsible use of gene technology but will refrain from using GMO derived ingredients where consumers are reluctant to accept."

"It has become very clear to us that Nestle is lying to its consumers. Here in Hong Kong, Nestle has reneged on its promise to go GE-free and it has also contradicted its on corporate business principles that it will not use GE ingredients if consumers do not want it. While in Thailand, they admitted using GMOs and claim that is completely safe. Greenpeace rejects this deceitful behavior of big companies like Nestle. This should stop now," said Lo Sze Ping of Greenpeace China.

In today's action, activists were chained to the front gate of Nestle plant while a vehicle was parked at the back to block the rear entrance in order to blockade the factory to prevent its daily distribution from taking place. A banner that read "No more lies. No more GE food" was displayed at the front entrance. In a 'virtual press conference' by Greenpeace in Thailand, the press was invited to its office to witness footages of the action and interview its campaigner via the internet.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia said they joined the action to mark the beginning of a series of activities aimed at pressuring food companies to totally eliminate GMOs in baby food. "Up to now, no one can guarantee that baby food contaminated with GE ingredients is safe. Therefore big multinational corporations should exercise utmost precaution and spare children from unknown and unexpected risks. Nestle should set a good example by urgently recalling all its products from the market that contain GMOs", added Auiaporn.

According to Greenpeace, there is no labeling system at present in both Hong Kong and Thailand. "Nestle, which claims to be the world's largest food company, has been lying through its teeth about a GE phase out. Because nobody is willing to do something constructive to protect public health, Greenpeace has decided to take direct action to pressure Nestle to stop flooding Asian markets with GE food," said Lo Sze Ping.

In Thailand, a process to initiate labeling has started but is nowhere near completion. "Greenpeace calls on the Thai government to take a significant first step in protecting its consumers by fast-tracking a mandatory labeling policy and by eliminating GMO contaminated food in the market, particularly in baby food," stressed Auiaporn.

Greenpeace opposes genetic manipulation of food because of its possible danger to the environment and human health. There are concerns that GE foods may trigger new allergic reactions, affect antibiotic treatment, or alter nutritional value.