GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Swiss food giants want gene soybeans separated

		 Swiss food giants want gene soybeans separated

RTw  15.10.96 13:00   

Copyright 1996 Reuters Ltd.  All rights reserved.
The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or
in part, without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.
    By Marcus Kabel
     ZURICH, Oct 15 (Reuter) - Switzerland's two biggest food retailers, which
control 43 percent of the Swiss market, are demanding that U.S. soybean
producers separate new genetically altered beans from the conventional crop.
     Migros, the largest Swiss retailer with 24 percent market share, said on
Tuesday genetically engineered soybeans and derivative products must be clearly
labelled because consumers want to know what is in their food.
     Migros joined a call by number two retailer Coop Schweiz on Monday for
European food producers to stand up against plans by U.S. suppliers to mix the
new soybeans with shipments of conventional soybeans.
     "We too want the soybeans marketed separately and labelled because 80
percent of our consumers say they want clear labelling and freedom of choice,"
Migros managing board member Monika Weber told Reuters.
     "We are not against genetic technology, but you have to respect the
consumers' wishes," she added.
     Europe is due for its first shipments of genetically altered soybeans 
this year, when the new U.S. harvest will include Roundup Ready beans developed
by U.S. chemicals group Monsanto Co. (MTC.N) to withstand its Roundup 
     Soybeans, soyoil and derivatives are used in some 30,000 food products 
as confectionery and margarine.
     "We are urging our suppliers to push for a separation (of genetically
altered soybeans)," Weber said.
     Migros and Coop spoke out three weeks after EuroCommerce, representing 
retailers and wholesalers in 20 European countries, warned that European
consumers could shun the 1996 U.S. soybean harvest unless gene-modified strains
were labelled.
     But Migros' Weber said there was little chance of widespread consumer
boycotts of the kind that affected the European beef industry after this year's
"mad cow" scare.
     "With beef, it was one product, but with soy now it is in all kinds of
produce," she said.
     The U.S. grain industry says it would be costly and impractical to try to
separately handle crops that are indistinguishable from traditional varieties.
     U.S. and European Union (EU) health and safety checks have approved the 
of Roundup Ready beans, but approval by non-EU member Switzerland is still
     Consumer and environmental groups including Greenpeace are petitioning the
Swiss government to bar any imports of genetically engineered foodstuffs.
     Simonetta Sommaruga from the Swiss Foundation for Consumer Protection said
the arrival of the Roundup Ready beans would give a boost to already popular
organically grown produce at big grocery chains and smaller shops.

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