Starfish: Another Nestle's Product found GMO Positive

Feature story - June 2, 2002
Greenpeace revealed another test result of Nestle products that were tested GMO positive by Hong Kong DNA Chips. Nestle Star Fish, vanilla flavor cream coated biscuits, was contaminated by 13.35% of BT maize. BT Maize is genetically modified maize that can produce toxins to kill insects by the plant itself. It's made by inserting a bacterial gene into the maize.

Earlier three formulas of Nestle Cerelac, baby cereal, were detected GMO positive by Greenpeace. In a recent meeting between Greenpeace and Nestle's executive at its headquarter in Vevey, Switzerland Nestle insisted on selling GM food to Thai people while it does not use GM ingredients in food products sold in Switzerland and some other European countries. The reason given was that Thai people are not concerned about GMOs but the Europeans are.

Varoonvarn Svangsopakul, a campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, who attended the meeting stated that "Nestle is practicing double standards. We will continue putting Nestle's product in black lists of our Shoppers' Guide. Consumers who want to avoid GMOs should beware of Nestle products. They can contain GMOs any time because the company has the policy of using GM ingredients in Thailand." Regarding the risk that GM products may pose to human health, Dr. Douglas Parr, Chief Scientist of Greenpeace UK, and Bruno Rebelle, the executive director of Greenpeace France, pointed out in their letter to Nestle that "Widespread distribution of these food (GM food) in the food chain has only happened over the last few years and so longer term effects e.g. long-term nutritional or immunological effects, may not yet have shown up.There is the possibility that there have been effects but that they have not been detected and in any case the foods are not labeled so attribution of cause and effect would be virtually impossible to equate this scientific position of 'no evidence' with that of safety would be exactly the same mistake as the UK Government made over many years in relation to BSE (so called - Mad Cow disease)." Moreover Dr. Parr also pointed out that there is a very specific identified potential hazard with respect to Antibiotic Resistant Marker Genes. They are not, of course, used in all GM crops but the potential for spreading antibiotic resistance through the horizontal transfer of the genes in the gut of humans and animals continues to be investigated.

Although the Ministry of Public Health has announced a ministerial regulation for GMO labeling which will be effective in May 2003, Nestle Starfish will not be labeled because it's not in criteria of the regulation because maize is not one of the 3 main ingredients of the products so it doesn't have to be tested for GMOs.

"Consumers can use precautionary principles by avoiding GM food or stop buying products that are suspected to contain GMOs. For Nestle products, since it insisted on using GM ingredients, there is no guarantee that the products that weren't tested positive this time will be always free of GMOs. Consumers can also return Nestle products to them to tell Nestle that we do not want to eat GM food and demand Nestle to stop using GM ingredients in their products." Said Varoonvarn.