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 diferentiate between the clearly labelled, 
relatively informative, and comparatively 
well-publicised introduction of genetically engineered 
tomato pastes 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 

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 
dissertation] has established that several 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 or reject the 
introduction of this new technology with all of its 
inherent environmental, food safety and 
ethical uncertainties as well as the wider social and 
economic implications of future genetic engineering 
In addition, the limited '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 
those of officially prescribed environmental/food 
'safety'. I find it particularly lamentable that it is 
becoming apparent that the ONLY official 'democratic' 
means that citizens will have of influencing this 
debate [remember that gm soya was only introduced into 
the EU in late 1996] is as consumers; according to 
proponents of biotechnology and the 'free'-market 
economy, consumers can 'vote with their pockets' and 
hence avoid gm foods if they so wish.  
How can informed or concerned consumers 'vote with 
their pockets' without enforced, effective and 
consistent labelling policies? 

As official consent has apparently already been given 
for the introduction of certain 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. 

With the failure of governments thus far to ensure 
this right, and the aggresive opposition of the 
biotech industry lobby 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. 
Respect and support to all activists.

Peter Mundy.