The Candid Eye

February 19, 2010

Genetic engineering: The world’s greatest scam?

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.

September 20, 2009

The Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods

Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 114, Number 3, March 2006 Open Access
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The Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods

Letter: Margulis C

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September 19, 2009

Greenpeace uncovers illegal GM food in India

New Delhi, India — Greenpeace today confirmed the presence of illegal Genetically Modified [GM] food in India at a press conference. Tests conducted at an independent laboratory on products picked up randomly from a supermarket in New Delhi has revealed that Pepsico’s Doritos Corn Chips contain genetically modified Mon 863 and NK 603 variety corn ingredients. [1]

Both Mon 863 and NK 603 are Monsanto’s genetically modified corn varieties. Mon 863 has a bacterial gene to give pest tolerance, while NK 603 has a bacterial gene for herbicide tolerance. An Independent analysis last year, done by the Committee for Independent Research and Information On Genetic Engineering [Crii-Gen] lead by Prof Gilles Eric Seralini, a member of the French National Committee For Risk Assessment of GMOs had concluded that both Mon 863 and NK 603 pose serious health impacts [2]. The debate that ensued led many countries in Europe including France and Romania to stop the cultivation of GM corn. None of these varieties have been approved in India for human consumption.

“Though India has a law prohibiting the sale of any genetically modified food products with out the permission of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee [3], the presence of these products in the supermarket shelves proves that the regulatory system is in shambles. India seems to have become a dumping ground for genetically modified products that have been rejected due to their risk to health elsewhere,” said Rajesh Krishnan, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace had received RTI responses from the Director General of Health services, Director General of Foreign Trade and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the three agencies involved in regulation of import of Genetically Modified food in the country, declaring that no permission has been granted for the import and sale of any Genetically modified Food in India other than purified Soya oil [3].

“This is a serious violation of people’s right to safe food as consumers are being kept ignorant of the presence of potentially dangerous GM ingredients in the food products. There is growing scientific evidence on the health hazards of GM foods across the world and it cannot be ignored any more. The mandate of keeping hazardous food out of the country should be the duty of the Health Ministry and it should take immediate steps to stop the illegal entry of these foods,” said Dr Mira Shiva, of the Initiative for Health, Equity and Society.

Greenpeace is demanding that the Health ministry take notice of this serious violation and threat to human health and constitute the Food Safety and Standards Authority at the earliest.
In the meanwhile,
1. Effect an immediate confiscation of these products from the market, keeping in mind their potential health risk.

2. All imported food products should be embargoed and tested for any GM contamination and GM products found should be rejected.

Notes to Editor

[1] Greenpeace had picked up 3 random products containing corn from Le Marche, a super market in Vasant Vihar in January this year. The products were sent to an independent laboratory for DNA analysis for confirmation of the presence of GM ingredients. The PCR analysis had confirmed the presence of the GM ingredients in the corn chips.
The test results are available with Greenpeace and can be shared on request.

[2] The study on Mon 863 was published in the American journal, Archives of Environmental contamination and toxicology dated May 2007, and is available on line http://www.springerlink.com/content/02648wu132m07804/?p=d84fa910926d4c7492a585a386b28812π=18

[3] Under the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro Organisms Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (1989), Rule 7 (1) states “No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use or sell any hazardous micro organisms, genetically engineered organisms/substances or cells except with the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.” Rule 11 states: “Foodstuff, ingredients in food stuffs and additives including processing and containing or consisting of genetically engineered organisms or cells, shall not be produced, sold, imported or used except with the approval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.”

[4] The RTI responses have been annexured.

Vision, video, photos, report information

Jayashree Nandi- Greenpeace India Communications, +91-9343868011, jnandi@in.greenpeace.org Rajesh Krishnan, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, +91-9845650032, rkrishna@in.greenpeace.org

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