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Retailers to ban food from animals fed GE crops

Top UK food retailers to ban meat and dairy products from animals fed on genetically engineered (GE) crops

London, 26th January, 2001 – Two of the top three food retailers in the UK, Tesco and Asda, today announced that all their own-brand meat products will be produced only from farm animals fed with non- genetically engineered (GE) feed, and that they are also committed to non-GE dairy products (1,2).

Greenpeace applauded the move and predicted it will have a profound impact on the international market of soya and maize, the two main GE- crops currently commercialised.

“This is fantastic news, not only for UK consumers. Starting from the UK, we foresee the European market for GE soya and maize will collapse as countries like Germany, France and Italy are likely to follow this example and switch to non-GE food and feed production. This marks the beginning of the end for GE ingredients in the food chain in Europe,” said Lorenz Petersen, Genetic Engineering Campaigner for Greenpeace.

Whilst major food companies and retailers have been eliminating GE ingredients in human food products, up till now GE crops have continued to flood into Europe through animal feed. Over 80% of soya and maize imports have gone into the food of animals that provide our meat and dairy products.

The three largest food retailers in the UK have now all committed to the non-GE standard in their meat and dairy product as Sainsbury is also removing GE from the feed of farm animals. Recently, other multinational food companies such as Carrefour in Belgium, Wiesenhof in Germany, and McDonald’s (for its chicken) across Europe, have announced their intention to sell or use only animals fed with non-GE feed.

A widespread rejection of GE animal feed will spell disaster for multinational grain importers, such as Cargill, who supply the bulk of the GE soya and maize to Europe. So far these companies have abused their quasi-monopolistic position and ignored the clear demand for GE- free animal feed supply in Europe and elsewhere.

Today’s announcement will also impact on the farmers’ decision whether or not to plant GE crops in the United States and in other GE exporting countries. Much of the soya trade the US already lost, as a result of their failure to segregate GE from non- GE, has been picked up by Brazil, where commercial planting of GE crops is illegal.

“The next urgent step is for European governments to introduce a proper system of labelling of food products coming from animals fed with GE feed. Neither consumers nor farmers are able to reject GE products as long as there are no regulations in place to force suppliers and producers to label GE ingredients in animal feed,” Petersen added.

For more information: Lorenz Petersen, Genetic Engineering Campaigner, Greenpeace International, Tel: +49-177 3494844; Andy Tait, Genetic Engineering Campaigner, Greenpeace UK, Tel: +44 20 7865 8250; Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK Press Office, Tel: +4420 7865 8115 or +44- 7801 212 993; Teresa Merilainen, Greenpeace International Press Office, Tel: +31 205236637. Greenpeace backgrounders on “GE animal feed is sneaking into the feed chain” and “Potential Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Organisms in Animal Feed”

Notes for Editors (1) Asda is owned by Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. Tesco is ranked number six worldwide by company revenue (Washington Post, Nov 19, 2000).

(2) At the first stage of the phase out, both Tesco and Asda expect to be able to sell non-GE pork, poultry, eggs and fish from this summer/autumn, with other products to follow.

(3) U.S. soya exports to Europe dropped from 9, 849,257 metric tonnes in 1995 to 6,751,055 tonnes in 1999. Brazilian exports to the EU have risen from 2,993,000 metric tonnes in 1996 to 6,867,000 tonnes in 1999. (From 2001 Soya and oilseed blue book - end

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For more information on this press release please contact: Greenpeace International Press Office T: ++ 31 20 5249515 F: ++ 31 20 5236212

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