We won't sell it
Majority of EU retailers say no to GE
What do the major European food retailers and producers think about genetically engineered (GE) food? In a new Greenpeace report, we asked them. Of the 60 top companies we contacted, 49 of them won't use GE in their own brands, and they've gone on record saying so.
The EU market is worth over 1 thousand billion Euros in annual food and drink sales. It is effectively closed to GE-labelled ingredients according to policies of leading retailers and food producers, as revealed in the Greenpeace EU Markets Report, published today.
49 of the 60 top companies contacted have a non-GE policy in their own brands either throughout the EU or at least in the market where they make the majority of their sales. A further 8 companies gave a non-GE commitment in a number of countries but not yet in all of their EU markets. Two companies never responded and one company, the Dutch Royal Ahold (Albert Heijn), uses GE ingredients in 3 to 5 of its own brand products but noted that this number is declining. A significant number of companies stated that their policy applied globally or company wide.
New European legislation requiring the labelling and traceability of GE products came into force in April 2004.
Since that time, our volunteers and cyberactivists have been patrolling supermarkets as "Gene Detectives."
These activists monitor the shelves and report GE-labelled food by uploading pictures of the products to an interactive map. To date, very few products in a handful of countries (The Netherlands, UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and France) have been reported.
The wide-spread nature of the consumer and company rejection of GE products has now been sustained over many years in Europe.
This demonstrates that excluding GE ingredients is possible in practise on a large scale. Labelling polices are practical for other countries such as Japan, Brazil, and the US, where consumers have an equal right to know what their food is made from, and ought to be given the choice what to buy.
Instead, the US government has taken a lawsuit to the World Trade Organisation, accusing EU legislation of setting up unfair trade barriers to GE products. This study provides further evidence that the lost exports have in fact been caused by consumer and food industry rejection, not EU policies.
The fact is: people don't want to buy it. Stores don't want to sell it. And the GE multinationals can't make us eat it.