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    GE UPDATE

    Progressive Enterprises Ltd, owners of Foodtown, 3Guys and Countdown, and Woolworths, owners of Big Fresh and Price Chopper, have both announced they will become GE free in their own brands. This means that the Signature Range, Basics, First Choice and No Frills branded products will not be sourced from ingredients derived from genetically engineered crops.

    Of the major supermarket chains, this leaves only Foodstuffs, owners of New World, 4 Square and Pak N Save, who need to be persuaded to go GE-free in their in-house product, Pam's. Foodstuffs will label (it's the law) but they are not going "out of their way" to source GE-Free products. Foodstuffs has said that "anecdotal evidence showed consumers were relaxed about GM food and would not refuse to eat it." (Source: Business Herald, 21/11/01)

    These companies have committed to GE free products:

    • Tegel,
    • Pandoros,
    • Unilever,
    • Heinz-Watties,
    • Cerebos Gregg's,
    • Quality Bakers,
    • Frucor,
    • Sanitarium,
    • Whittakers,
    • Cadbury's,
    • Tip Top,
    • Leggos (Simplot),
    • Ryvita,
    • Kelloggs,
    • NZ Dairy Foods,
    • Chelsea,
    • Hubbards,
    • KFC,
    • Pizza Hutt,
    • Starbucks.

    See the Greenpeace link for an update on which companies are GE-free: www.greenpeace.org.nz/truefood or check the booklet Greenpeace True Food Guide (available through us or Green-peace 09-630 6317.

    Action

    • Inside this newsletter we enclose a leaflet "GE free food and how to get it". Use as a guide when you shop in the supermarket. It also explains what GE foods won't be labelled. Copy it and pass it around to your friends and neighbours.
    • Ring 0800-24 51 14 and ask for Pam's to be GE free.
    • If you shop at New World, 4 Square or Pak N Save, ask to see the manager and say you would like to see Pam's go GE free.

    STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS
    Pams trying to be GE free

    • We have a letter from Pam's Products stating: "Pams endeavour not to use genetically modified ingredients in its products. We are working with our suppliers to achieve this goal." This is good news, but keep pressure on them and on Foodstuffs to show them that consumers don't want GE food.


    Are you feeling frustrated

    that the Government hasn't listening to the concerns you have about the genetic engineering of food? Apart from supporting companies that are committed to GE products, empower yourself by doing at least some of these things:

    • Join the GE free register (details page 9)
    • Use stickers and signs to advertise your GE free status (see page 12)
    • Call 0800 consumer help-lines and tell them that you don't want to eat GE food. (See the enclosed leaflet for more numbers to ring.)
    • Ask your local dairy and supermarket about their GE policy (especially New World, 4 Square & Pak N Save.) Suggest they should contact their suppliers and ask them about the GE status of their products.
    • Make sure the seeds you use in your garden are GE free. You can get organic seeds from suppliers such as Organically Yours Eco Seeds organicallyyours @xtra.co.nz, call 04-479 4444; or Koanga Gardens Trust, RD 2, Maunga turoto, New Zealand. Ph 09-431 2145, Fax: (09) 431 2745. www.koanga.org.nz
    • Get your street together: visit your neighbours and make it a GE Free street/neighbourhood. Post signs at either end, and on all doors and letterboxes to declare your GE-Free intent. Remember to notify the Council, and CC The Prime Minister Helen Clark and Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs.
    • Sign or start a GE free petition to your local council. (You can get a blank model petition from us through email or post.)
    • Write letters to the editor and use talkback radio.
    • Visit your local MP.

    New Zealand

    A bevy of anti-GE activity around New Zealand with the Royal Commission report coming out and the impending Government decision on it has resulted in a number of GE-free areas in the country.

    Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey has declared his intention to make the city GE-free. Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner is in favour of the city being GE-free. Hastings District Council mayor has asked the Government to extend the moratorium on field trials.

    Hauraki District Council has made a decision to write to the Government expressing the view that "NZ's clean, green image could be compromised if field trials of GE transgenic organisms are allowed and that the considerable public concern and doubt about the safety of these organisms warrants a continuation of a moratorium on such field trials".

    Christchurch City Council agreed after some debate to become GE food-free. GE Free Canterbury spokesperson, Paul de Spa, reported to the Council 250 Christ-church people and businesses had declared themselves and premises GE free.

    Onslow College students in Wellington presented a petition with signatures from over half of the students to the school board, asking the school to go GE-free. The Board, less enthusiastic than the students, is debating various implications.

    Rodney "organic friendly"
    Rodney Council has declared itself "organic friendly". Mayor John Law said it was not just about growing organic vegetables, but included initiatives that would make it easy for organic farmers to set up in Rodney, while encouraging the growth of allied industries, like rural cafes, worm farming, alternative building methods and materials, alternative power supplies, recycling and alternative medicines. Mr Law stressed, however, that the declaration had nothing to do with the more controversial GE.

    Demand for NZ organics increases
    International demand for New Zealand's organic produce still far outweighs supply, says Jon Manhire Executive Director of Organic Products Exporters of New Zealand.

    "The organic market is becoming increasingly important to New Zealand. The organics industry's total production last year is around $120 m with an estimated $70m coming from exports. It is estimated this will grow to $500 m in the next four years."

    The domestic organics market is growing at a staggering 50 per cent a year.

    www.organicsnewzealand.org.nz

    Tegel GE-free

    Tegel New Zealand has committed to feeding its chickens on feed free from genetically engineered ingredients. The firm carried out consumer research which showed that 60 per cent of consumers were concerned about New Zealand chickens being fed on genetically engineered crops and that 75 per cent would prefer chicken that had not been fed genetically engineered feed.

    Green MP Sue Kedgley welcomed the news and suggested that Tegel might in addition like to conduct a consumer survey on how chickens should be treated and housed. It should also listen to consumer concerns about the feeding of the ground-up remains of animals and the use of antibiotics to chickens on a routine basis.

    Green Party news release August 2001

    Action

    Call Tegel on 0800 730 850 to congratulate them about going GE-free and to ask them to stop using routine antibiotics and ground up animal remains in their feed.

    Overseas

    Scientists find GE material in native Mexican corn

    Scientists in the United States said wild maize grown in a remote area of Mexico had been contaminated by genetically modified corn. The scientists are not sure how the plants were contaminated because agricultural experts believe corn pollen is too heavy to be blown by the wind. The Berkeley scientists found evidence of p-35S, a promoter for the cauliflower mosaic virus which is used in nearly all commercial GM crops.

    Mexico banned planting transgenic maize in 1998 but it is still imported from the United States. The closest area with GE corn to the contaminated crop is 100 km away. The scientists said the contamination could have occurred before the moratorium.

    Reuters 30 November 2001

    Philippine farmers against GE

    Some 200 farmers, representing a coalition of several groups, gathered in Mindanao, the Philippines, to protest against the field testing of genetically engineered Bt-corn. On Tuesday, the country celebrated World Food Day. The coalition said there was nothing to celebrate because 80 percent of Filipino families were not able to eat three times a day, as a survey showed. Poldo Guilaran, Masipag national president, said instead of the government supporting local food production, it promoted the production of high-value crops for export. "Today, the government is supporting the genetically-modified organisms being promoted by transnational companies that are already monopolizing (worldwide) agriculture," said Guilaran.

    The farmers said food security was not achieved through GE promotion, high-value commercial crops and importation, but through the government implementing fundamental changes in farming and farm ownership in the rural areas. Deputy Mayor Leandro Catarata of Valencia City said that their city had an existing ordinance imposing a moratorium on the testing of Bt-corn and other GE products for five years.

    Inquirer 17 October 2001

    Bid to stop GE wheat in Canada

    A broad coalition of over 300 groups, including farmers, food industry, health professionals, consumers and environmentalists in Canada are making an effort to prevent the introduction of GE wheat into the Canadian feed and food supply. Their concerns include market loss, risks to Canada's distinguished reputation for quality wheat varieties, agronomic impacts, negative effects on Canada's successful organic sector, food and environmental safety, as well as regulatory inadequacies.

    With 19 million tonnes of Canadian wheat exported around the world, Canada is the second largest wheat exporter and sells more than two thirds of its wheat production abroad. The most important countries of destiny are China, the USA, Iran, Algeria, Japan, the European Union, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico. The majority of these countries are not prepared to accept genetically engineered wheat.

    Reuters 31 July 2001

    Tesco increasing organic sales in UK

    Tesco announced it wanted to increase sales of organic products to £1 billion within five years. This target will account for at least 5% of all the food Tesco sells. The supermarket giant said it would be introducing hundreds of new products and cutting the price of many existing lines.

    Guardian 1 November 2001

    Belgium boosting organic farming by 60% a year

    Belgium said yesterday that it wanted to increase the number of organic farms by 60 percent annually over the next four years.

    Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and State Secretary for Energy Olivier Deleuze announced the goal as part of Belgium's four-year plan for sustainable development required by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro. "Belgium is the first country to have put forward such a global strategy to match the agreements struck at the Rio Conference," Deleuze told a news conference.

    The food and agriculture sector were hit hard last year when it was discovered that animal feed contaminated with the carcinogenic chemical dioxin entered the food chain. Products affected were pulled from domestic supermarket shelves while countries around the world stopped importing Belgian food products and livestock.

    Reuters 25 October 2001

    Brazil soy winning higher premiums as GE-free

    Brazilian soy product exports are winning higher premiums from France, Japan and other countries in search of grains that are free of genetic engineering.

    Coinbra, Louis Dreyfus' Brazilian unit, has been making a name for itself certifying GE-free soy shipments for Europe and Japan where bio-engineered foods have encountered resistance from increasingly health-conscious consumers.

    Local grain companies have been reporting that Brazil's conventional agricultural products have seen greater demand around the world because of their GE-free reputation.

    Reuters, 19 July 2001

    GE soy in baby food in Phillipines

    Swiss healthcare group Novartis AG confirmed allegations from environmental group Greenpeace that some samples of baby food it sold in the Philippines contained genetically engineered soy. Novartis said it was seeking alternative sources of the GE ingredient for the Philippines because of consumer pressure.

    Reuters 5 October 2001

    French GE-crop foes destroy maize at Monsanto site

    In France around 150 activists destroyed genetically engineered maize plants at a test site run by Monsanto. The activists, including members of the left-wing Confederation Paysanne farm union, tore up bio-engineered maize being grown on around 800 square meters in the southern French town of Beaucaire, government authorities in Nimes said.

    Reuters, 23 August 2001

    Sri Lanka delays ban on GE foods

    Sri Lanka is delaying indefinitely its ban on GE foods. The proposed ban, which drew criticism from the United States and was delayed for three months at the request of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), had been due to go into effect on September 1. The ban had also drawn fire from local business groups which asked the government to wait until 2003 when the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Commission is due to announce an international standards regime for GE foods.

    Reuters 4 September 2001

    Organic apple growing benefits land and growers

    Organic farming could be healthy for profits as well as the soil, according to a six-year study of apple orchards in Washington. The study, published in the journal Nature, showed how organic apple production can raise profits, improve soil quality and produce sweeter, firmer fruit than conventional practices. An apple orchard was divided into plots that used organic methods, conventional techniques or a mix of both, called integrated management. The health of the trees, apples, soil, fungi, earthworms, how well clods hold together were compared.

    The study indicated the organic orchard would break even on operating costs nine years after planting, compared to 15 years using conventional methods and 16 years for integrated management. Soil quality ratings were much higher for organic and integrated systems, largely due to the addition of compost and mulch, said John Reganold, Washington State University researcher.

    23 April, 2001 Associated Press

    Organic meals in school cafeterias in Italy

    The Italian government has announced the introduction of organic meals in school cafeterias. "The aim is to ensure that genetically modified foods don't end up in our schools, as well as getting rid of foods containing pesticides, within the next three years," Italian Agriculture Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said.

    Los Angeles Times 7 January 2001

    JOIN the GE free register!

    • Those who own or manage a property and do not want to accept any risk of contamination from GE crops on neighbouring properties can place their property on the New Zealand GE free register. The register records the position of the property in the country. The criteria for a "neighbouring property" will be any property within the foraging range of bees, currently set at 8km on advice from the National Beekeepers Association of New Zealand. Rural land occupiers especially are encouraged to join.
    • The aim is to show the Government how futile it is to attempt to allow GE crops to be planted anywhere in this country.
    • At 27/10/01 there were 2,776 registrations which covered 113,440 acres and represented 8,620 New Zealanders.

    To register:
    On line at www.gefreeregister.co.nz
    Phone 09 4344 066

    Or write to us at
    PO Box 1803
    Whangarei
    for a form

    You can also contact the Safefood Campaign, details here


    December 2000

© Safefood Campaign