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GMO-FREE PRODUCTS & SEEDS: Update on GMO-free activities in the USA




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  KROGER TO COMPLETE TRANSITION TO CERTIFIED RBST-FREE MILK BY EARLY 2008

SOURCE: The Kroger Co., USA

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.thekrogerco.com/corpnews/corpnewsinfo_pressreleases_08012007.htm

DATE:   01.08.2007

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KROGER TO COMPLETE TRANSITION TO CERTIFIED RBST-FREE MILK BY EARLY 2008

CINCINNATI, Ohio – August 1, 2007 – The Kroger Co. announced today it will complete the transition of milk it processes and sells in its stores to a certified rBST-free supply by February 2008.

The Company said its decision was based on customer feedback in the markets it serves. Earlier this year, Kroger transitioned the milk it sells in the western half of the U.S. to a certified rBST-free supply. This move includes milk it processes and sells in its City Market, Dillons, Fry’s, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s divisions and Kroger stores in Louisiana and Texas.

By February 2008, milk the Company processes and sells in its stores throughout the Midwest and Southeast will also be certified as rBST-free. This includes Kroger banner stores in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

”Our customers’ increasing interest in their health and wellness is the basis for our decision,” said William Boehm, senior vice president and president of manufacturing for Kroger. ”We appreciate the willingness of dairy cooperatives across the country to work with us to make this transition in the next six months.”

Recombinant bovine somatotropin (”rBST”) is given to cows to help increase milk production. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded there is no difference between milk derived from cows treated with rBST and those that have not been treated. For the past 10 years, Kroger has informed its raw milk suppliers that the Company prefers milk from cows that have not been given rBST, based on consumer preference. Recently, a growing number of dairy farmers have started to offer certification that the milk they produce comes from cows not treated with rBST.

As a result of these certification programs and growing customer interest in this issue, Kroger has informed its raw milk suppliers that it will only procure raw milk from dairy cows that are certified rBST-free beginning early next year.

Kroger operates 15 dairies and three ice cream plants in the U.S. that produce all varieties of fluid milk and other dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream and novelty treats. Kroger’s private label milk is the brand of choice for the majority of its customers.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains. In 2006, the Company donated $150 million to help hunger relief efforts across the country, raise awareness of breast cancer, and support local schools and organizations in the communities it serves. At the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2007, the Company operated (either directly or through its subsidiaries) 2,458 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners including Kroger and Kroger Marketplace, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith’s and Smith’s Marketplace, Fry’s and Fry’s Marketplace, Dillons, QFC and City Market. Kroger also operated (either directly or through subsidiaries, franchise agreements, or operating agreements) 779 convenience stores, 408 fine jewelry stores, 652 supermarket fuel centers and 42 food processing plants. For more information about Kroger, please visit our web site at www.kroger.com.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  GROUP RESISTS GMO TARO

SOURCE: The Garden Island, USA

AUTHOR: Lester Chang

URL:    http://www.kauaiworld.com/articles/2007/08/16/news/news01.txt

DATE:   15.08.2007

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GROUP RESISTS GMO TARO

During a rally outside the Historic County Building Wednesday, a handful of residents urged visiting state legislators to halt genetically modified organism laboratory testing of taro by the University of Hawai’i.

”We want to make our intentions known to Kaua’i that we don’t want GMO crops, especially GMO taro, on our island,” said Jeri Di Pietro, accompanied by eight supporters. ”If taro goes into field tests, we will be giving pollution a life of its own.”

The group attempted to get their message across to 13 members of the state House of Representatives who were on Kaua’i yesterday for a two-day visit to tour agricultural and economic development projects. The group was loosely tied to GMO Free Kaua’i, which strives to keep genetically modified crops off the island.

GMO technology supporters say there exists no evidence that altered foods are dangerous. However, critics argue that genetically modified organisms should not be eaten because their long-term effect on humans is still unknown.

Wayne Nishijima, associate dean with the University of Hawai’i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, said the university has reached an agreement with the Royal Order of Kamehameha at this time not to conduct GMO testing of known Hawaiian taro varieties.

”Because of the moratorium, we are not touching the Hawaiian variety,” he said.

Nishijima said the university division has genetically modified Chinese taro known as bun long to make it more resistant to disease. It could begin work on Hawaiian varieties in the future, but only with approval by Hawaiian leaders, he said.

Genetically modified foods are produced from organisms with altered genome, or chromosomes. The process involves taking the DNA from one organism, modifying it in a laboratory, and inserting into another organism.

Carrying placards and standing with banners denouncing genetically modified crops, the group yesterday wanted to meet with state Rep. Clift Tsuji, D-3rd (South Hilo, Pana’ewa, Puna, Kea’au and Kurtistown), and other legislators to state their stand.

Di Pietro said the group wanted Tsuji, who heads the House Committee on Agriculture, to reconsider a failed bill proposing a 10-year moratorium on genetically modified laboratory testing and field work in Hawai’i.

The legislators attended a meeting of the Kaua’i County Council’s Finance and Economic Development Committee yesterday as part of a courtesy call. While in attendance, they listened to a presentation by county officials on the future of the island’s tourism industry.

But none of the legislators reportedly met with the group, boarding a bus after the meeting to visit project sites on the island, county officials said.

”We’ll get opinions from both sides of the (GMO) issue,” Tsuji said yesterday. ”That is why we’re here (on Kaua’i).”

Nishijima said the university began genetically modified testing on the Chinese taro at its facilities a ”couple of years ago.”

But Di Pietro doesn’t see that type of testing as having much value, as ”it is not something we want.”

”The university sees (genetically modified testing of taro) as a small risk,” she said. ”We see it as a big risk. Farmers don’t want it. Consumers don’t want it. You can’t reverse the effects.”

Di Pietro also said taro eaten by Hawaiians is as important to today’s generation as it was to ancient Hawaiians, as taro is a main staple for them.

Thomas Silva Jr., a Kalaheo resident whose wife’s family has grown taro for generations, said genetically modified taro borders on being sacrilegious.

”By taking away the taro and changing it, you are taking away the culture of Hawaiians,” he said.

Francine Weigle, who is part Hawaiian, said she tended to taro patches in Hanalei Valley as a girl, and that ”the pure taro is better than anything else.”

Anne Ponohu said growing Lihuaali’i taro in the traditional way is a top priority for her, as the rare pink taro was served to Hawaiian royalty. The taro species is unique because it bleeds a red-colored liquid whenever a leaf is pulled off, she said.

”It grows mostly in Hanalei and is mostly cultivated by older Hawaiian families,” she said.

Also calling for a ban on GMO testing, Marge Freeman said having stocks of taro or corn that are not treated will go a long way toward protecting crop production in Hawai’i and elsewhere in the world.

”Bio-diversity is an important part of keeping crops healthy,” she said.

Nishijima said the research will continue, as no evidence has come forward to prove that generically modified crops have adversely affected the health of consumers. GMO advocates have said it is too early to tell whether such treated crops will do harm.

Di Pietro said banning the technology is the best option, adding that its use poses a bigger problem than scientists can control.

Should GMO technology be used on Hawaiian taro varieties, the amount of poi taro produced by Kaua’i, for instance, could increase significantly, Nishijima indicated. According to a 2005 study, 235 of 350 acres in the state for that type of poi are found on Kaua’i, he said.


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