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Nestle misleading consumers on Gene-food queries.

GE-Free New Zealand(RAGE)Inc
In food and environment

PO Box 693 Nelson Tel 03 546 5035 fax 03 546 5036 gefree@ts.co.nz

Website: www.rage.org.nz

National Spokesperson
Mary Anne Howard-Clarke. Tel. 04 589 1125 Cell. 021 674 966
Susie Lees. Tel. 03 546 7966
Rosanne Bush Tel. 09 426 2699
Marion Thomson Tel. 06 875 1219

1 June 2000

Nestle misleading consumers in response to Gene-food queries.

Consumers are being misled by food manufacturers over their policy on genetic engineering, says the consumer group GE-Free NZ (RAGE), and Nestle are the worst.

Nestle(NZ) has been identified as particularly unhelpful to customers trying to find out which products contain GE ingredients. Instead of guaranteeing products like Milo are GE-free ,as many customers have asked, the company has simply responded with misleading information.

These claims support recent revelations by David Russell of the Consumer Institute, whose survey showed the grocery industry is in disarray on how to answer consumer queries. The issue is a subject of complaint under the Fair Trading Act sent to Phillida Bunkle, the Minister of Consumer Affairs.

“Nestle advertises products like Milo as if nothing has changed, but if we are giving Milo to our children we want to know that Milo is GE-Free." said Mary Anne Howard-Clarke, national spokesperson for the consumer group. "Instead of saying whether Milo contains GE ingredients or not, Nestle sidestep the issue and send you a copy of an article from the National Business Review, singing the praises of GE!"

The article, written by Fran Wilde CEO of Tradenz, details the pro-GE arguments that have been put forward overseas to offset public and scientific concern over the risks of GE foods. However the article, published last month, has itself been criticised as being one-eyed in its support of the technology.

"Genetic engineering might have value in medicine, but Milo isn't a medicine; you buy it at the supermarket or dairy, not at a pharmacy. Nestle is ignoring their customers wishes by merely sending out an article that's highly misleading , not least because it is already out-of date." said Mrs Howard-Clarke, a mother of four, adding that recent events in Europe were turning the tide on GE crops. “I don’t want to stop buying Milo, I want Nestle to stop contaminating it." she said.

 In recent days Europe has been rocked by contamination of crops with unwanted GE material. Britain's agriculture minister has announced that thousands of hectares of GE-contaminated rapeseed must be destroyed. Advanta, the seed company facing potential lawsuits for millions of dollars, has said it hopes to avoid GE-contamination in future by sourcing seeds from New Zealand!

 Recently published research from a three year study at the University of Jena in Germany has shown that herbicide-resistant genes from crops have passed into bacteria and fungi in the gut of bees and have been taken into the bees own genetic makeup. “This is highly alarming and should be taken very seriously.” said Ulrike Riedel of the German Health Ministry.

This raises new concerns over the unwanted spread of genetic codes, including antibiotic resistance used in GE crops. The study shows once again how little we know about this science and adds strength to calls for a Global Moratorium on all GE crops.


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