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3-Food: Kraft targeted in anti-biotech food campaign



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TITLE:  Kraft targeted in anti-biotech food campaign
SOURCE: Reuters, by Deborah Cohen
DATE:   February 8, 2002

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Kraft targeted in anti-biotech food campaign

CHICAGO - A coalition of green health-policy groups this week called on 
Kraft Foods Inc., the largest North American food maker, to remove 
genetically altered ingredients from several of its popular products, 
including Tombstone pizzas and Stove Top stuffing.

The Washington-based coalition, called Genetically Engineered Food Alert, 
said an independent laboratory had tested several Kraft products and found 
they contained genetically altered corn or soybeans. The U.S. government 
has approved the use of the ingredients, but the coalition said they have 
not been adequately tested to determine their safety. GE Food Alert is the 
same group whose findings in 2000 led to the recall of Kraft taco shells 
containing StarLink, a gene-spliced corn not approved for human 
consumption. The organization is also calling for mandatory labeling of 
foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which the 
government does not currently require.

Biotech foods have come under increased scrutiny by critics, particularly 
in light of recent global health concerns sparked by mad cow disease and 
foot-and-mouth disease. Kraft, citing approval from a wide range of 
regulatory bodies, says its products are safe. "There is a strong global 
consensus among government, scientific and medical experts about the safety 
of biotech foods," said Kraft spokesman Michael Mudd. "We have strong 
confidence in the process by which that consensus was reached." Kraft 
shares were 8 cents lower at $37.02 in Wednesday afternoon trading on the 
New York Stock Exchange.


POPULAR PRODUCTS HAVE GMOS

Testing positive for gene-spliced corn were Kraft's Taco Bell taco shells, 
Lunchables lunch kits, Tombstone pizzas, Post Blueberry Morning cereal, 
Stove Top stuffing and the french onion variety of SnackWell's brand 
crackers, a GE Alert representative said at a news conference in Chicago. 
Kraft's Boca Burger brand vegetarian burgers were found to include GMO soy. 
"It's time for Kraft to finally make public health a priority," said Kate 
Madigan of the Illinois chapter of State Public Interest Research Groups, 
which is a founding member of GE Food Alert. "We are calling on Kraft to 
remove genetically engineered ingredients from these and all of their 
products."

GE Food Alert, whose other founding members include the Center for Food 
Safety, Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Agricultural and Trade 
Policy, said it had garnered help from partner organizations and local 
health advocates in 170 cities around the country to help launch its 
campaign against Kraft this week.

In September 2000, GE Food Alert disclosed research that led to a national 
recall of Kraft's Taco Bell taco shells that had been manufactured with 
StarLink corn, a genetically altered variety made by Aventis SA. The 
research led to a government investigation. The group has pressured other 
food makers, including Campbell Soup Co., to stop using GMO ingredients. 
Campbell maintains its foods are safe.

"We have always encouraged development in food science and technology that 
would improve the safety, quality, availability and wholesomeness of food 
and food ingredients," said John Faulkner, a spokesman for Camden, New 
Jersey-based Campbell.



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