The latest Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide
Auckland January 30 2008 –
The latest Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide reflects a strong ongoing non-GE position from New Zealand food companies and an unprecedented anti-GE stance from Australasia's largest food company.
Late last year, Goodman Fielder - umbrella company for brands like Edmonds, Meadow Lea, Meadow Fresh and Irvines - spoke out against the lifting of Australian State bans on genetically engineered (GE) food crops, urging all Australian State Premiers and Agriculture Ministers to keep the oilseed crop (canola) GE free.
Goodman Fielder cited consumer opposition to GE foods and Australia's best interests as reasons for its unprecedented public step into the wider GE debate (1).
"Goodman Fielder had shown it's in touch with consumers and very conscious of the wider economic advantages of producing GE free crops for export markets and ensuring its own products are non-GE," said Greenpeace GE spokesman Mike Hagler.
"Given Australia is the biggest source of New Zealand's canola and many other processed foods we consume, this directly impacts us.
"People believe they have a basic right to know if the food they're eating is made from GE crops or not, and that's what the Greenpeace GE guide informs them of," said Mr Hagler.
"And given that the New Zealand government recently approved a potentially cancer-causing GE animal feed for human consumption, the Guide is needed more than ever to allow consumers to avoid GE food." (2)
The Guide is now into its sixth edition; past editions have been used by thousands of New Zealanders as a consumer tool, and the GE Free Food Guide has remained the most popular section of the Greenpeace NZ website for a number of years.
All companies featured in the Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide are colour coded according to their policy on avoidance of GE-derived ingredients.
All Goodman Fielder products are now in the green section, meaning they don't contain GE-originated plant and animal ingredients, including animal feed. Other popular food brands and companies that continue to enjoy a green categorisation include PAMs (Foodstuffs), Heinz Watties, Unilever, Tegel, Whittakers chocolate, Sanitarium and Phoenix.
One company that has descended into the red (may contain GE) category is Bluebird (due to their new ownership by PepsiCo, who lack a non-GE policy). Cadbury and Nestle also remain in the red category.
Two products on New Zealand shelves are actually labelled as containing GE ingredients - ProNutro (Bokomo Foods) – a GE maize breakfast cereal from South Africa and Stagg Chili Beans (Hormel Foods) – a GE labelled canned bean product from the US.
As a general guideline, Mr Hagler said the four potentially GE ingredients to really look out for in New Zealand are soy, maize or corn, canola and cottonseed oil.
Copies of the guide can be downloaded at: http://www.gefreefood.org.nz/downloads/GreenpeaceGEFreeFoodGuide08.pdf
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(1) Western Australia Agriculture Minister's press release 9/11/07: "Goodman Fielder chief executive officer Peter Margin cited increasing consumer uncertainty about the long term effects of eating GM food; consumer preference for foods that are not genetically modified; Australia's current international competitive advantage for its GM-free status and continuing uncertainty about the performance of GM crops in Australian conditions as reasons for continuing the moratorium."
(2) High-lysine GM corn LY038, made by Monsanto and intended as animal fodder, was approved for human consumption in New Zealand in December 2007. There are scientific indications that if the corn accidentally gets into the human food-chain and is then cooked, it could potentially cause cancer, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease.
How the guide works
Green: Companies that are not using GE-originated plant and animal ingredients. This includes a policy of no GE animal feed. Also included are certified organic products - the best guarantee of GE free.
Orange: Companies who have committed to removing GE originated plant and animal ingredients and are in the process of doing so.
Red: Companies that have no clear policy of removing GE originated ingredients. This category can include companies that did not respond adequately to Greenpeace enquiries.