GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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UK Chefs protest...




Chefs join protest over genetically-engineered food 

By Roger Williams, PA News

Top London chefs left their restaurant kitchens today - to demand a new 
law enabling them to keep genetically-engineered food off their menus. 

Many dressed in traditional "whites", they demanded compulsory labelling
so they and their customers - and anyone food shopping - could decide
whether or not to eat genetically-manipulated products. 

The chefs unveiled a new billboard by Greenpeace, carrying the slogan
"Supermarkets want to sell genes (virus genes, bacteria genes, petunia
genes). Leave our genes alone. We don't want genetically-engineered
food". 

The protest, outside a fashionable restaurant in Kensington, west
London, centred on the import of genetically-engineered soya beans
without labelling. 

It came the day after a new row about genetically-engineered corn. 

Environment Secretary John Gummer served notice yesterday that he would
not allow the Americans to force their genetically-altered corn into
Britain's food chain. 

He spoke out after the publication of a leaked memo warning the corn
posed a health risk and was reportedly about to be imported into
Britain. 

After today's poster unveiling, some chefs said they were frustrated at
the opposition of many food companies to labelling clearly which
products had been modified by scientists. 

Nico Ladenis, of the Park Lane restaurant Chez Nico's, urged shoppers to
support chains like Marks & Spencer who had expressed public concern
about genetically-altered products. 

"I am supporting this because I don't like nature interfered with," he
said. "It will have bad results. It is all done for money, it is all
done for profit. I like pure food." 

Martin Lam, of Ransome's Dock, said chefs were determined to avoid
buying unnatural food, but could never be sure unless labelling was made
compulsory. 

"All we can do is buy from reputable suppliers," he said. "But, for
instance, I buy good olive oil and there is nothing to stop someone in
Italy introducing genetically-engineered olives, for argument's sake. I
would never know." 

He was also angry at the lack of proper testing on humans before the
introduction of the new products. 

"We are very careful to test other things we expose ourselves to, like
drugs or shampoo. That doesn't seem to be the case with soya." 

Greenpeace says that within months half of all food could contain
genetically-manipulated ingredients. It says 60% of all processed food
contains soya and no one will know if it is made from the new beans,
which have genes from bacteria, viruses and the petunia plant to make
them resistant to herbicides. 

The makers of the new Roundup Ready soya beans say they have been given
food safety approval by regulatory agencies around the world, and that
special labels are not necessary because "these beans are the same as
and as safe and nutritious as other soya beans". 

They say labelling is not practical because the new beans are mixed with
other soya beans at the farm and through every stage of processing.
Customers benefit because farmers can use less herbicide. 

The makers say people who are not allergic to other soya beans will not
be allergic to the new beans. 

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