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Food Professionals For GE – Free Cuisine

Monday 4 December 2000, Auckland, New Zealand – At lunch today, top Auckland chefs signed a declaration to avoid the use of genetically engineered ingredients wherever possible.

The chefs signed the declaration after meeting over lunch at Kermadec’s Restaurant in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin. The chefs expressed a mutual concern that genetically engineered food is not true food and encouraged food manufacturers and producers in New Zealand to avoid using genetically engineered ingredients and products.

“Natural and good quality ingredients are the best ingredients, they have been used for centuries why change now,” said Alistair Parker of Paramount. “I am very much against scientists playing with food, we don’t get better flavours,” added Simon Wright, French Café.

Another concern raised was the risks associated with genetically engineered foods. “What are the long term effects? It is not until one generation later that they will find they have made a mistake,” said Mr Parker. This was echoed by Mr Wright, “It’s too much of a god syndrome, it is not good really is it? I am definitely anti- GE as we have enough potential problems with mad cow disease.”

One chef spoke about his preference of organic food. “I am very concerned about the prospect of GE foods, organics is the future,” – David Griffith’s – Vinnies.

The chefs join their North American and European counterparts who have also turned their backs on the technology. 19 top restaurants in Britain have declared their menus free of any GE ingredients and called for a five year ban on GE food. Whilst in North America, top US chefs are calling for stricter safety measures and mandatory labelling for GE foods.

The chefs present at the lunch were: Michael Meredith – Otto, Alistair Parker – Paramount, Jeremy Schmidt – Red, David Griffiths – Vinnies, Judith Tabron – Mikano, Iain Venner and Takashi Nakamura – Kermadec, Michael James – MJ’s, Stephen Thomson – The Sheraton.

For more information contact: Dean Williams, ph: 3030 598 mobile: 021 212 5986


Food Professionals for GE-Free Cuisine PRESS BRIEF

What is Genetic Engineering

Genetically engineered (GE) organisms are new life forms which have never before occurred in nature. The process of genetic engineering transfers genes from one species to another and, unlike traditional plant breeding, across species barriers. The consequences of releasing these organisms into the environment cannot be predicted, expect that once released they cannot be recalled or contained.

What do Food Professionals say about Genetic Engineered Foods?

Britain

In Britain in particular, the very best restaurants have come out publicly to say that not only do they not use GE, but condemn its use in all aspects of food production. The Good Food Guide is the bible of the very best restaurants in Britain. Only 23 restaurants are given 8 out of 10 or more for “their quality of cooking”. Of these, 19 restaurants have come out against GE, declaring their menus free of any GE ingredients and calling for a five year ban on GE food. In fact even the restaurants and canteens in the British House of Commons have banned GE food from their menus.

United States

In the US, chefs have been just as defiant. Top US chefs joined with scientists, Health Professionals and religious leaders to form a group that sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998. They claimed that the FDA policy toward GE foods was inadequate in terms of safety, and denied consumers the right of choice. This year, top US chefs again came together to back the Keep Nature Natural Campaign, which is calling for stricter safety measures and mandatory labelling for GE foods. Chefs involved included four former winners of the James Beard Foundation’s Chef of the Year Award, the most prestigious award for chefs in the US.

Food Professionals for GE-free Cuisine in New Zealand are:

Simon Wright – French Café, Michael Meredith – Otto, Alistair Parker – Paramount, Jeremy Schmidt – Red, David Griffiths – Vinnies, Judith Tabron – Mikano, Iain Venner and Takashi Nakamura – Kermadec, Michael James – MJ’s, Stephen Thomson – The Sheraton.

“Natural and good quality ingredients are the best ingredients, they have been used for centuries why change now? What are the long-term effects? It is not until one generation later that they will find they have made a mistake.” Alistair Parker – Paramount, “I am very much against scientists playing with food, we don’t get better flavours. It is too much of a god syndrome. I am definitely anti-GE as we have enough potential problems with mad cow disease.” Simon Wright – French Café “I am very concerned about the prospect of GE foods, organics is the future” – David Griffith’s – Vinnies. Labelling

From mid 2001, labelling laws, enforced by ANZFA (Australia New Zealand Food Authority) will label genetically modified foods and ingredients. Unfortunately ANZFA have identified exceptions that create loopholes in the labelling regime. The exceptions are

Highly refined food - eg modified cornstarch, soy lecithin, oils and sugars that have been highly processed. Processing aids and food additives – eg vegetarian rennet in some cheese, brewing and baking aids and food colourings. Flavours when they make up less than 0.1% of the final food product. Food prepared at the point of sale – this is one of the biggest omissions by ANZFA because it exempts all restaurant and fast food.

Why is the public opposed to genetic engineering?

Public opposition derives from a complex set of concerns over the new technology and its products. These include: Health. People are becoming aware that there is a scientific basis to safety concerns about genetically engineered (GE) foods, and are reluctant to replace food they know to be safe with food that might not be. Environment. There is growing evidence that genetic engineering poses new risks to ecosystems, with the potential to threaten biodiversity, wildlife and truly sustainable forms of agriculture. According to the research, it is the potential for long-term effects which most concerns people. The public is rightfully concerned that once genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been released into the environment, they may transfer their characteristics to other organisms and can never be recalled or contained. Ethics. For many people, the main issue is not whether GE food is safe or not, but the fact that it is unnatural and unnecessary. For some, it offends deeply held principles about the relationship between humanity and nature. Politics. International free-trade agreements are increasing the power of commercial interests and people are concerned that un-elected bodies such as the World Trade organization are influencing governments. Profit. Trade in seeds, food and crops is increasingly dominated by a handful of multinational corporations such as Monsanto, Novartis, Zeneca, Aventis (merger of Hoechst and Rhône Poulenc) and DuPont. It is widely believed that these are the only beneficiaries of GE crops and foods.

For more information contact: Dean Williams, ph: 3030 598 mobile: 021 212 5986


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