GENTECH archive 8.96-97


The Freedom of Choice

An alliance of german consumer associations, Greenpeace and 
ecological groups started a campaign on 11 September against
novel food.(1)

In a few weeks genetically altered soy beans from the US company
Monsanto will be marketed in the European Union (EU). The genetically
modifyed organism (GMO) are resistant to the herbizide Roundup which
is also produced from Monsanto. The GMOs will be mixed with ordinary
soy beans and distributed on the EU market.

European consumers won't be able to distinguish the unmodifyed soy
beans and the GMOs from Monsanto because labelling is not required.
A huge amount of food products (20,000 to 30,000) contains soy bean 
ingredients and it is hard to avoid them in modern foods.

Monsanto got the EU approval for import on 19th March 1996. Before
the US Trade Departement threatened the EU with economic sanctions.(2)
Soy beans are an important product of the US agriculture. The half
of the world production of soy beans is harvested in the USA.(3) 

As the vast majority of consumers in Germany are against novel food,
the campaign will likely get a lot of support. Although a food indu-
stry federation judged the protest as a fear campaign, a large 
german baby food producer (Milupa) and a farmer association assured
not to use Monsantos beans if possible.

In Switzerland (not an EU member) Migros, a large food retailer, 
advocated the marketing of Roundup beans. Contrary to Migros Coop, 
another supermarket chain, demanded to label the GMOs and their 
products to give the consumers the freedom of choice. It is expectet 
that the responsible swiss authorities will approve the Roundup beans 
in fall this year.(4)

In the European Union Eurocommerce a large multinational retailer
association and the British Retail Consortium also demanded to
respect the consumers right for information.

		1) die tageszeitung, 11 September 1996, "Kampagne gegen Gen- 
		   Soja gestartet"
		2) FOEE Mailout, Issue 2, 15th March 1996 (it is retrievable
		   with the command "archive get docu/foee396" in the subject
		   of a message to the list request address)
		3) die tageszeitung, 26 August 1996, "Genfood kommt fuer alle	
		   auf den Tisch"
		4) Basler Zeitung, 7th September 1996, "Gentechfood: Migros
		   und Coop sind uneins"

Werner Reisberger