Monsanto's chefs banish GM food from staff restaurant : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

ISSUE 1671 Wednesday 22 December 1999

Monsanto's chefs banish GM food By Andrew Hibberd

GENETICALLY modified food has been banned from the staff restaurant of Monsanto, the company spearheading GM crop trials in Britain.

Granada Food Services decided to remove modified products from the menu in Monsanto's canteen at its base in High Wycombe, Bucks, "in response to concern raised by customers". The ban applies to all food outlets operated by Granada Food Services. Catering at the Monsanto facility is managed by Sutcliffe Catering, one of its subsidiaries.

Mike Batchelor, Granada's quality systems director, said: "In response to concern raised by our customers over the use of GM foods and to comply with Government legislation, we have taken the decision to remove, as far as practicable, GM soya and maize from all food products served in our restaurant."

Friends of the Earth, which has campaigned against the use of GM ingredients in food and the farm-scale crop trials, claimed the decision by Granada Food Services proved that even Monsanto's own caterers had "no confidence" in the company's products.

Tony Combes, director of corporate affairs for Monsanto, denied the decision was an embarrassment for the company. He described it as "ironic" that Granada had chosen to restrict customer choice to decide for themselves whether they ate GM products.

He said that at Monsanto's Cambridge offices the canteen was run in-house and had a different policy on GM foods. "We believe in choice. At our Cambridge restaurant the notice says some products 'may contain GMOs' because our staff are happy to eat foods sprayed with fewer chemicals," he said.

-- Old Git (, December 22, 1999


Sounds like Monsanto needs to cancel their contract and get a different catering company.

So much hysteria based on so little solid evidence.

Not that GM foods are really topical to this forum.


-- A.T. Hagan (, December 22, 1999.

Alan, if you look in the archives you will find a good deal of discussion of and interest in genetically modified foods by the people of this forum over the months. If anyone is storing and eating corn ("maize") or soybean products (and there are other GM foods), as many forumites are, they are likely to be ingesting GM foods. If you wish to eat GM foods, that is your prerogative. Others would rather not; that is our prerogative. The above article is supremely ironic and certainly relevant to this forum.

In addition, there is indeed some strong evidence that GM foods are unsafe. You will find sources and cites for said evidence in the archives.

-- Old Git (, December 22, 1999.

Saw a story last week on one of the ag sites (has since rolled off) about several farmers filing a class action suit over the GM seed since they can't sell their crops. I believe they are claiming that the seed companies did not give them full information.

-- beckie (, December 22, 1999.

I've looked at the sources and there's even more sources that indicate the problem has been overblown when looked at in the context of other feasible agricultural practices. GM foods do not exist in a vacuum, you have to look at the whole picture.

I have no problems with labeling, if people really want it, so long as they're willing to pay the costs. For what it's worth, I'd like to see a very full discourse on all modern agricultural practices, here in the US, those in Europe and every other nation as well, their potential pitfalls and what the possible alternatives are. Exactly how we manage to keep food prices so cheap and the politics of how foods get from one nation into another need a good long look. Just don't do it in a preparedness forum.

Look at it in a broad enough way and there is NO topic that doesn't impact somebody's preparedness. We could discuss Chechnya, British politics, air pollution and the WTO, they all have impacts on our preparedness in some form or fashion. Of course, the really useful preparedness info will be drowned out in the increased static which is what I had in mind when I said that GM foods were not really topical to this forum.

On that note, this is my last post in this forum about GM foods.


The Prudent Food Storage FAQ, v3.5

-- A.T. Hagan (, December 22, 1999.

Old Git,

I have been observing for two years. I STILL have not found ANY evidence that GM foods are bad for one's health in any way. It seems that every time this issue is raised the anti-GM foods people know of mounds of evidence, only the evidence is not immediately at hand. It's on some other forum or in some academic journal no one ever heard of.

The "evidence" against GM foods is a chimera.

-- Rick (, December 22, 1999.

I'm sorry, the post was to inform those who have chosen not to include GM foods in their Y2K supplies, not to start an off-topic debate on the merits. However, if anyone would like to read articles about the controversy published in a highly respectable British newspaper, here are some previous posts.

Firms agree to extend GM crop ban -

US alarm grows over GM foods -

GM foods: prestigious British medical journal will publish negative research re potatoes, implications for soy and corn -

For Gilda and others not fans of GM foods -

GM soy milk causes herpes? -

-- Old Git (, December 22, 1999.

Old Git,

So your post is for those who have already chosen not to use GM foods in their preps. I see. You just want to let them know that they are not alone.

On September 24 I posted a note on the "For Gilda and others not fans of GM foods" thread and I asked someone if they had ANY SOLID EVIDENCE that GM foods were bad for one's health. Guess what? No responses yet. Surprise, surprise.

I repeat my challenge today.

Still waiting . . .

-- Rick (, December 22, 1999.

To round out the perspective, I offer this from the California Farm Bureau Federation:

Farm Bureau Testimony on Bioengineered Food

Presented to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Public Hearing Regarding Biotechnology in the Year 2000 and Beyond Oakland, California, December 13, 1999

California Farm Bureau Federation represents more than 85,000 members who produce nearly 350 agricultural commodities. As producers and consumers, we welcome these hearings as an opportunity to review the FDA oversight of biotechnology and identify ways in which the public might be provided with needed information about biotechnology and its many uses.

CFBF is an advocate of research and a supporter of technology adoption, including biotechnology. Biotechnology offers opportunities to produce safe, nutritious food that consumers desire in an environmentally responsible manner. People worldwide have been consuming "genetically engineered" food for many years. Ninety percent of the enzymes used in the making of cheese have been genetically engineered since 1990. The genetically engineered enzymes used to prevent bread from turning stale and hard as rock after one day have been in used in bread making since 1993. There are endless examples of genetically engineered food items in nearly every fast-food restaurant, household cupboard and refrigerator worldwide.

It is important that consumers become familiar with the terms "genetic engineering" and "biotechnology" so they are not misled or confused by misinformation. Food biotechnology is based on age-old principles of selective breeding that have been used by farmers for centuries to provide variety, improve taste and produce more healthful foods. The only difference is that with today's techniques, plant breeding can be accomplished faster and with greater precision.

Numerous scientific authorities, including the California Interagency Task Force on Biotechnology, have stated that there is no reason to distinguish between a plant bred by classical plant breeding techniques or genetic engineering. The National Research Council took the position in 1987 that "no conceptual distinction exists between genetic modification of plants and microorganisms by classical methods or by molecular methods that modify DNA and transfer genes." The NRC also stated that the evaluation of a genetically modified food should be based on the final food product and not the process that modified it.

FDA's oversight policy for new plant varieties developed in 1992 adheres to the principles adopted by the NRC by clearly stating that if a food is altered significantly (i.e., composition or nutritional value) from its original state it must be labeled as such. FDA works closely with food companies and performs a thorough consultation and assessment process of new plant varieties. Any perception that FDA oversight is voluntary needs to be dispelled. As currently structured, FDA already has a mandatory labeling requirement that should assure any consumer that if the food product they are eating is significantly different from its original form, such as containing an allergen or new proteins, it would have to be labeled with that information.

It would be a disservice to require labeling of every product that has been genetically modified because it would confuse consumers into thinking that a genetically modified food product should be avoided. Voluntary labeling of food products that have never been genetically modified is acceptable provided a government sanctioned labeling program fully identifies the genetic origin of all the ingredients of a food product and provides certification similar to the organic industry.

Biotechnology has and will continue to be of tremendous benefit in the development of more nutritious and safer foods. Researchers have begun developing fruits and vegetables that contain beta carotene and vitamins C and E. They are also working on developing a banana that can be used to deliver vital oral vaccines for diseases such as hepatitis B and tomatoes with even more naturally occurring antioxidants.

The greatest number of modern biotechnology applications appear in health care, where they offer new hope to patients with AIDS, genetically inherited diseases, diabetes, influenza, and some forms of cancer. New biotechnology-based processes are now used routinely in the production of most medicines, many diagnostic tools, and new medical therapies. Therefore our discussion about educating the greater public of the importance and safety of biotechnology should be comprehensive and not specifically focused on food products.

In order for the public and producers to feel comfortable with biotechnology and its use, it is important that information be available to those who want to learn more about the technology. This may include such information as why it is used and how it relates to other production technologies, including medicinal and health care. It is also important to provide access to information about the process that is used to assure the safety and nutritional value of genetically modified foodstuffs relative to that of other conventional foods. Relative to providing the information, the companies involved in the production of the products as well as the regulatory agencies seem most appropriate.

USDA's APHIS Web site and the University of California represent a good start in providing information to the public regarding agricultural use of this technology. The Internet is an increasingly useful way of providing information to consumers. It should continue to be developed by all parties. Informational phone lines and traditional publications can also be useful.

The roles that USDA and EPA also play in determining the safety of biotechnology in food and food production are extremely important and should be emphasized in educational efforts with the public. The efforts to communicate with consumers through new Web sites and an independent review of the regulatory process for biotechnology-derived plants by the National Academy of Sciences are examples of a strong coordinated framework to ensure food safety. New ideas to continue and enhance cooperation between the three agencies will only serve to make the process stronger and more efficient.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide these comments to you. Biotechnology has great potential for the future, but if we are to realize this potential it is important that the public be comfortable with the processes that are in place to assure the safety and quality of the products they consume. We feel that the system has worked well to date for it has allowed producers access to the products and benefits of the technology and it has also protected the health and well being of consumers. It is important that the general public be equally comfortable with the system. We encourage you to seek ways to assure that the system continue to work as well in the future as it has to date as you address any concerns that exist. This will allow everyone to benefit from the potential improvements that can be made available through the use of this technology.

For more information contact: Louie Brown National Affairs & Research Division

-- marsh (, December 22, 1999.

For people who are preparing for Y2K for something that MIGHT happen, caution in what you eat should not be so far removed an idea. In nature, I don't see sheep breeding with horses, why would I want my other food source to be unnaturally produced.

-- Jamie (, December 22, 1999.

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