Food and beverage giants commit to GE-free food

Posted by Isobel Drake on 29th October 2009

Launched by celebrated chefs Martin Boetz and Margaret Fulton, and Clover Moore MP, Lord Mayor of Sydney as part of the Sydney International Food Festival, the Greenpeace Truefood Guide rates over one thousand of Australia’s top food and beverage brands for the presence of GE ingredients. Since the release of the first Greenpeace Truefood Guide in 2003, more than half of Australia’s top food brands have committed to non-GE policies, with Foster’s, Nestlé, Schweppes and Lindt now implementing non-GE ingredients policies for their Australian brands.

“The 2010 Truefood Guide is the biggest guide ever, as the Australian food industry answers consumer calls for GE-free food,” Greenpeace GE Campaigner Rochelle Porteous said. “It is the only comprehensive shopping guide that empowers Australians to avoid GE ingredients.”

For the first time, this year’s harvest of Australian GE canola will find its way into foods like pasta sauces, breads, cakes, baby food, oils and margarines, because NSW and Victoria have started commercially growing small amounts of GE canola.

Martin Boetz, one of 180 chefs to sign the GE-free Chef’s Charter, hosted the launch of the Consumer Guide at his Sydney Restaurant Longrain.

“We have no knowledge about the long-term side effects on our bodies and environment from consuming GE food and I do not wish to promote this in my cookery,” Mr Boetz suggested.

Scott Delzoppo, Sustainability Manager of Foster’s group, said the GE-food debate was a complex issue but they were keen to avoid genetically-modified ingredients.
“Foster’s is pleased to clarify that the ingredients used to produce our Australian beer and wine portfolio are non-GE,” he said. “We recognise this area is highly complex and of concern to our consumers and we will continue to work with our suppliers to maintain the highest quality standards and ingredient integrity.”

Greenpeace said it was consumer pressure and lobbying that has so far kept iconic Australian brands like Milo, Uncle Toby’s cereal, VB and Peters Ice Cream free from GE-Ingredients.

“Opinion polls show the majority of consumers don’t want to eat GE food and 90% want it labelled,” Ms Porteous said. “In the coming months Greenpeace will campaign to ensure the recently announced COAG food labelling review protects consumers’ right to chose safe, non-GE food and doesn’t leave Australians eating in the dark.”The issue has been divisive in the food sector, and is likely to be a major source of debate in coming years as people supportive of GM-food – including Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke – argue it could be a key to food security as population growth puts pressure on supplies.