PURE FOOD CAMPAIGN AND JEREMY RIFKIN ANNOUNCE A DROP IN US SOYBEAN EXPORTS
TO EUROPE OF AT LEAST 10% ($150 MILLION) IN RESPONSE TO GROWING GLOBAL
BOYCOTT AS FIRST SHIPMENT OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SOYBEANS ARRIVE IN
GERMAN NESTLE, UNILEVER & OTHER MAJOR EUROPEAN BUYERS REFUSE 1996 U.S. SOY
EXPORTS TAINTED BY GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SOYBEANS
FOUNDATION ON ECONOMIC TRENDS CLAIMS FIRST ROUND VICTORY IN BATTLE TO DRIVE
MONSANTO'S "ROUNDUP READY" SOYBEANS OFF THE MARKET
WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Pure Food Campaign and the Foundation on Economic
Trends President Jeremy Rifkin announced today that Nestle and Unilever in
Germany and other major European soy buyers have begun to cancel orders for
U.S. soybean exports, due to consumer backlash against the controversial US
government policy allowing unlabeled and relatively untested genetically
engineered soybeans to be mixed together with ordinary soybeans and sold on
domestic and international markets. Unilever and Nestle announced
respectively on Oct. 24 and 25 that they are canceling orders amounting to
over 650,000 metric tons of unprocessed US soybeans--equivalent to 7.1% of
last year's 9.1 million metric tons of US soy exports to Europe.
Nestle and Unilever's announcement comes in the wake of similar actions
taken by other European soy and soy oil buyers, including leading
supermarket chains, baby food manufacturers, dietary food producers, and
the natural foods industry in Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden,
Austria, the Netherlands, and other EU nations. As Eurocommerce--the
umbrella trade association representing wholesalers and retailers in 20
European countries--pointed out in a Oct. 7 press conference sponsored by
the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C., recent European
surveys indicate that up to 90% of consumers insist upon mandatory labeling
of genetically engineered foods.
Since October 7 over 300 consumer, health, farmer, and environmental
organizations from 48 nations have pledged to boycott Monsanto's "Roundup
Ready" herbicide resistant soybeans, citing potential human health hazards
and adverse environmental impacts. A similar controversy has erupted over
Swiss-based Ciba Geigy's genetically engineered Bt-spliced corn, presently
approved for marketing in the US, but banned in Europe.
According to Dan McGuire, former executive director of the Interstate Grain
Commission in Lincoln, Nebraska, "An Oct. 24 export sales report by the
USDA documents that cumulative US soybean exports to Europe this marketing
year are only 69.3% of year ago levels. The lack of flexibility [on
refusing to separate and label genetically engineered soybeans and other
grains] combined with the indifference and arrogance of some of the
US/multinational grain companies toward our European customers flies in the
face of the very 'market-oriented' farm and export policy that these same
grain traders and commodity groups pushed through the US Congress in 1996."
McGuire went on to add "If the US grain industry really believes it is
'supermarket to the world,' it better start acting like it. With cumulative
US exports off a full 20-30% and soybean prices at the farm gate dropping
steadily, the negative impact on farmers and the rural economy from this
export issue is very serious indeed. And let us remember that although US
farmers and the US economy are losing export sales to Europe, this does not
mean that the multinational grain companies are losing sales--since they
are quite willing to sell European buyers the grains and oilseeds produced
by the US's foreign competitors," concluded McGuire.
Despite the Clinton Administration's refusal to require special pre-market
safety testing or labeling of genetically engineered foods and crops,
consumer concern over gene-spliced products, both in Europe and the US, is
growing. Consumer polls over the past decade indicate that 80-95% of the
American public wants mandatory labeling. An April 17th poll by the
Associated Press found that 22% of Americans have changed their dairy food
purchasing habits because of concern over Monsanto's controversial
genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (also known as rBGH or BST).
An earlier boycott against rBGH has resulted in heavy financial losses for
Monsanto during the first two years of the product's introduction onto the
US market. In addition the international boycott against rBGH has
successfully blocked approval in Canada, Australia, and the European Union.
Both the international rBGH boycott and the current soybean and corn
boycotts have been organized by the Foundation on Economic Trends (FET) and
its affiliate, the Pure Food Campaign.
"The message from consumers worldwide is clear. Unless genetically
engineered foods and crops are properly safety-tested and labeled,
consumers and socially responsible businesses are left with no other
alternative but to boycott them," said Jeremy Rifkin, President of the FET.
"Monsanto and Ciba Geigy are going to suffer catastrophic losses and
cripple US agricultural exports unless they withdraw their gene-spliced
soybeans and corn from the world market," concluded Rifkin.
"As we predicted on October 7, Monsanto's genetically engineered 'Roundup
Ready' soybeans have sparked a major trade confrontation between the US and
our trading partners in Europe. The latest data show that US farmers and
the US economy have already lost $150-450 million dollars in soybean sales
to Europe, with the controversy growing more intense with each passing
week," said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Pure Food Campaign.
San Francisco State Philosophy Department has just put together a new
homepage on the dangers of Genetic Engineering:
Also see: www.bio-integrity.org
Comments and suggestions are welcome.
For a complete e-mail overview of this problem e-mail request to:
Dr Ron Epstein
College of Humanities
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA 94132
office e-mail: email@example.com
home e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ANOTHER SOURCE: For more information on the dangers of genetically-engineered
foods, call or write Mothers For Natural Law in the United States. You will
receive your own personal "Safety-First" information pack by U.S. mail. Be
persistent if you do not receive it. Write or call again. They are totally
1-510-838-4249 leave name, address, and phone
1-515-472-2809 office number
in the United States,
or write to:
Mothers For Natural Law
P.O. Box 1177
Fairfield, Iowa 52556 U.S.A.