Privileged Genetic Pirates Face Trouble
Americans Slowly Following European Trend Away from Modified Foods
Writing in the London Sunday Telegraph, David Wastell reported:
AMERICAN consumers are finally waking up to the international controversy over genetically modified food, with members of Congress joining a growing clamour for compulsory labelling and leading companies searching for alternative ingredients for some products.
In a country where a high percentage of the items on supermarket shelves have some kind of GM content, there are signs that American shoppers are gradually taking up the concerns over GM food that have swept Britain and Europe. With half of American corn and one third of its soya beans tainted by the transplanted genes, many of the country's best-known household products would be at risk if a consumer backlash took hold - from Coca-Cola to tomato ketchup, breakfast cereals to cake mixes.
Until recently, most American consumers were oblivious to the fact that they routinely eat and drink artificially-altered combinations of genes. But last week's high-profile climbdown by the American company Monsanto on plans to insert a so-called "terminator gene" into its cornseed, is leading to a sharp increase in awareness. It has led to farmers across America's corn-growing heartlands wondering whether the bumper crops they are harvesting - at least half of them from genetically-engineered seed - will be worth growing in the same form again.
Already the GM grain trades on the futures markets at a lower price than the natural grain, meaning that farmers are not able to sell their genetically-tampered products for as much money.
A Gallup poll published in America last week surprised many in the food industry by finding that 68 per cent of adults surveyed wanted labelling of food that contained GM ingredients.
And last week the Wall Street Journal asked, Will U.S. shoppers demand that the foods they eat be "biotech-free," the same way they want "fat-free" or "organic" items? "The more press it gets, the more it will become an issue for consumers," said Andrew Jacobson, a senior executive of Hain Food Group Inc., which recently decided to slap labels on its Little Bear line of natural snacks, assuring consumers that no ingredients come from genetically modified plants.
Will the genetic manipulators succeed in using the government to block consumers' freedom of choice? Tell your opinion to The Progress Report:
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