The Candid Eye

September 21, 2009

Consumers reject GM food, demand Nestlé India go GM free.

New Delhi: 16th September 2009: More than 500 consumers today pledged to return their Nestlé products to the company’s corporate office in Rajiv Chowk today, even as Nestlé continued to deny the consumers their right to GM free products. Greenpeace volunteers, who acted on behalf of more than 20,000 consumers across the country, placed the rejected products marked with question marks, into larger than life nests in front of the office building, parodying Nestlé’s well known logo. This symbolized questionable contents of Nestlé products owing to the company’s failure to have a GM free policy.

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Greenpeace India released the Safe Food Guide in New Delhi recently ranking 17 major food companies as ‘green’ or ‘red’ on the basis of their policies regarding the use of genetically modified ingredients. Only two companies Nestlé, and Hindustan Unilever had indicated a policy which favoured the use of GMOs.

Hindustan Unilever, which was initially slotted in the ‘red’ list, has since clarified to Greenpeace that it does not use any GM ingredients in its products. This clarification by HUL has made Nestlé, with brands like Maggi, Cerelac, Lactogen, Kitkat and Nescafe, under its umbrella, one of the big brands, openly supporting the use of GM ingredients in its products.

As a result of the pro GM food position indicated by Nestlé, thousands of consumers across the country have started demanding that Nestlé, in sync with its policies in the European Union and Russia, should go GM free in India as well. Over 21000 emails have been sent to the Chairman and Managing Director of Nestlé India, Mr. Antonio Waszyk demanding that Nestlé India go GM free.

Last week, Greenpeace in China discovered Nestlé’s baby food products contaminated with GM ingredients. Like India, Nestlé has had a history of disregard to consumers in China. Soon after the news of this scandal, over a 100 people called the Nestlé India head office demanding a GM free policy from the company.

“Overwhelming public opinion shows that consumers reject GM food as unsafe and unnatural. Nestlé needs to respect consumer choice and declare itself GM free like it has in Europe and Russia. Anything else will be merely a manifestation of double standards. If MTR foods can, why can’t Nestlé” said Jai Krishna, campaigner with Greenpeace India.

(1) Of the 17 major food brands, 6 are in the ‘green’ list. 11 companies are in the red list. In the green list, MTR is the only company to have a policy rejecting GMOs in their food products. For the entire guide log on to http://www.safefoodnow.org

(2) http://www.greenpeace.org/china/en/news/nestle-baby-food
India has not approved any GM food crops as of today. However there are more than 11 food crops which have been under hundreds of acres of field trials. In addition to this, unauthorized imports of packaged foods and even grains, makes the threat of contamination a reality.

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