GERBER BABY FOOD, GRILLED BY GREENPEACE, PLANS SWIFT OVERHAUL
Beth von Gunten (email@example.com)
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 18:41:56 -0800
STRAINED PEACE: GERBER BABY FOOD, GRILLED BY GREENPEACE, PLANS
SWIFT OVERHAUL. GENE-MODIFIED CORN AND SOY WILL GO, ALTHOUGH FIRM
FEELS SURE THEY ARE SAFE. HEINZ TAKES ACTION, TOO. The Wall
Street Journal, July 30, 1999, pA1, 6. Also in:
A letter arrived on the fax machine at the Gerber baby food
company in Michigan on May 28 and it certainly got attention. Soon
top executives were formulating plans to change its decades- old
product that has sales totaling $1 billion a year.
Written by Charles Margulis and addressed "to the CEO," the
letter displayed the logo of Greenpeace, the activist European
The letter stated, "As you know, there is growing concern
around the world about genetically engineered food." Greenpeace
is "concerned that the release of genetically engineered organisms
into the environment and food supply may have irreversible
consequences." It asked if Gerber used genetically engineered
ingredients in its baby foods. If so, what products? Mr. Margulis
also wanted to know "what steps have you taken (if any) to ensure
you are not using" genetically modified substances. He asked for
a reply within five business days.
European opposition to genetically modified foods has already
taken its toll on American agricultural exports. American consumers
have reacted more mildly about the whole issue. The Food and Drug
Administration has tried to reassure the public that genetically
modified foods "are as safe as other foods in the grocery store."
But, with the involvement of Greenpeace, industry officials worry
that the climate in the US could change overnight and damage
companies like Gerber, Heinz and Beech Nut Nutrition Corporation.
Already, the maker of the Earth's Best line says it has just
decided that all baby food it produces will be made without
modified crops. In California, Healthy Times Natural Foods has
switched from Canola oil (which is sometimes altered) to safflower
oil after hearing from Greenpeace.
Gerber is going a step further than that. The company plans
to use corn flour and soy flour that is "organic," with no genetic
modifications or insecticides or herbicides. Al Piergallini,
president and chief executive officer of Gerber's parent company,
Novartis AG, said, "I want our mothers to be comfortable."
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