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No GM promise cuts no ice with dairy companies
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2010-05-21 13:48

Greenpeace China urged companies that have yet to promise not to use genetically modified (GM) ingredients to change their attitudes and address consumers' concerns, after it publicized almost 200 brands that failed to make the promise on Thursday.

Greenpeace quoted a survey conducted by China Xiaokang, a national magazine, in April, which showed that nearly two thirds of respondents prefer to purchase non-GM food.

"The long-term impact of genetically modified food on people's health is still unknown. Lab tests on mice have shown negative effects on their health, it is too risky to run those tests on ourselves," Wang Weikang, the food and agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace, told METRO.

Greenpeace said it had surveyed about 400 companies and 50 percent said they were willing to use GM ingredients. It said dairy producers were the most reluctant to promise not to use GM ingredients.

Out of the 19 dairy producers that have been contacted by Greenpeace China since January, 16 have yet to make a commitment to exclude genetically modified food additives from their products by May 18, the organization said.

Many brand name ice cream producers, including Nestl and Dairy Queen, that are still hesitating to make such a promise can be found on Greenpeace's red list.

"What is to be regretted is that Mengniu and Yili, the two dairy producers that occupy the majority market in China, haven't offered their promise to stay away from genetically modified food additives," Wang added on Thursday.

She said the two companies had made the no-GM promise in 2008 and 2009.

"A good and responsible company should be able to keep providing high-quality products instead of worsening products and service," she added.

General Mills, which owns a famous ice cream red-listed by Greenpeace, said: "Biotechnology has the potential to deliver many benefits to consumers through food, such as improved taste, lower fat, added nutrition and reduced allergenicity."

The company, which is the sixth biggest food company in the world, supports the continued development of biotechnology, coupled with appropriate safeguards and guidelines to ensure its safety for people and the environment.

Greenpeace China has been publishing a guide to inform the public about GM-free food since 2004. Every year, the organization asks a certain number of companies in various industries about their attitude toward genetically modified ingredients.

Source:China Daily 
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