GENTECH archive 8.96-97


"I guess heresay isn't the best source..."

>On Wed, 26 Mar 1997 12:03:43 EST10 janelle kennard 
><> wrote:
>> Comsumers in the UK have been quite impressed with the (clearly 
>> labelled) "genetically modified" tomato paste.  They have commented on 
>> the superior taste of the product, are pleased that it costs less, and 
>> the fact that in now occupies 17% of the paste market is testimony to 
>> this.
> I assume that by now you have seen my reply to the 
> same question from Peter - it was in a conversation 
> with the marketing manager or Zenaca - the company 
> involved. I guess heresay isn't the best source - 
> sorry I can't offer something more concrete.

> (copied from my reply to peter:)
> The regulatory affairs officer for Zeneca (the company 
> producing the tomatoes) Nigel Poole quoted these figures 
> to me recently when he was visiting Australia for a 
> conference I was involved with.  The cans in
> question (sold though Sainsbury's and Safeways, under 
> these labels)are certainly labelled clearly (quite 
> boldly) - I have a can near my computer!!

> Cheers,

> Janelle

Indeed, I agree that 'heresay' is perhaps not the 'best 
source' for such claims. I also think that one can 
distinguish between the clearly labelled, informative, 
strategically planned and comparatively public 
introduction of genetically engineered tomato paste in 
the UK by Safeway and Sainsbury's and the recent 
unlabelled, untraceable, uninformative and unpopular 
mass introduction of modified soya which might affect 
a possible 60% of all processed foodstuffs.

I am not sure if you have been following the debate in 
the UK concerning the labelling of foods derived from 
genetic engineering. My research [forthcoming MSc] has 
established that the majority of major UK 
supermarkets, whilst not necessarily opposed to the 
introduction of foods derived from genetic 
engineering, have opposed the introduction of 
genetically engineered soya on the grounds that the 
failure of US producers to segregate supplies has 
forced a situation where food producers and retailers 
are unable to label foods in what they feel is an 
adequate manner. Clearly this all but eliminates the 
rights of the consumer to support/reject the 
introduction of this new technology with all of its 
inherent uncertainties. 

In addition the 'public' debate concerning the 
introduction of foods derived from genetic engineering 
has exposed the significant failings of the current 
democratic process concerning the introduction of 
gentically engineered agricultural products to address 
wider public concerns other than that of officially 
prescribed environmental/food 'safety'. I find it 
particularly revealing that the ONLY remaining 
official 'democratic' means that citizens have of 
influencing this debate [gm soya was introduced into 
the EU in late 1996] is as consumers; they can 'vote 
with their pockets', as proponents of biotechnology 
and the 'free-market economy' proclaim.  

How can they make an informed choice without fair and 
unbiased official educational strategies? And how can 
they 'vote with their pockets' this without enforced, 
effective and consistent labelling policies? 

As official consent has apparently already been given 
for the introduction of foods derived from genetic 
engineering it imperative that consumers, as 
citizens, are given the democratic right to have the 
ability to elect NOT to support this technology through
the purchasing of non-modified foods, if they so wish. 

With the failure of governments thus far to ensure 
this right, and the aggresive opposition of the 
biotech industry to segregation and the labelling of 
foods derived from genetic engineering, an 
increasingly cynical view of this whole situation is 
by no means difficult to justify....

Nor is the growing support for, and continued success 
of, various NGO campaigns in Europe.

Peter Mundy.