Richard Wolfson, PhD
Bank Warns Against Biotech Credit Suisse, one of the worldâ??s largest financial advisors, recently sent out several reports warning that the progress of biotech appears doomed due to consumer concern.
Bank Warns Against Biotech
Credit Suisse, one of the world’s largest financial advisors, recently sent out several reports warning that the progress of biotech appears doomed due to consumer concern. Analysts stated that food manufacturers are running scared of genetically engineered (GE) crops, and that key questions about the technology may not be answered for several years. These reports from Credit Suisse, whose clients include some of the world’s top biotech firms, follow similar warnings by the influential Deutsche Bank in 1999.
Japanese Firms Switch
Many food firms in Japan are substituting corn and soybeans with wheat and other grains to ensure their products are free of genetically engineered ingredients. Nisshin Flour Milling Co, Japan’s largest flour miller, has replaced corn starch with wheat starch and soy protein with wheat protein.
Kibun Food Chemifa Co, Japan’s largest soybean-milk maker, has removed all GE ingredients. Sugar is also being derived from sources other than corn syrup.
Bugs Love "Poison" Crops
Corn genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill insect pests is only working on some pests. While this toxin is killing European corn borers, other insects are still surviving and attacking the plants. Consequently, biotech companies are advising farmers to spray the corn with other pesticides. These and other findings negate claims by industry that biotech crops will reduce the need for pesticides.
Shareholders Demand Ban
Shareholders have begun pressuring corporations worldwide by introducing resolutions to demand a moratorium on GE foods until proper testing is done. This international shareholder campaign is coordinated by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), an umbrella body for 275 religious and other groups, which claims to control $100 billion shares in US companies. Corporations initially targeted include Coca-Cola, Heinz, Safeway, McDonald’s, and Monsanto in the US, as well as Diageo, Pillsbury and Burger King in Europe.
Animal Feed Safety
Tesco, the largest food retailer in the UK, has removed all GE ingredients from animal feed. Tesco’s decision is impacting Canadian markets since Canada is a major exporter of crops to UK, and animal feed accounts for 80 per cent of GE crop sales. Greenpeace Canada campaigner Michael Khoo said "If Tesco can take genetically modified organisms out of animal feed, Loblaws can get them out of human food."
Over 170,000 Canadians have signed petitions demanding mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods. Individual petitions were distributed by the Canadian Health Food Association (25,000 names), Biotech Action Montreal (35,000 names), the Natural Law Party (54,000 names), Action R?au Consommateur and the Bloc Qu?cois (40,000 names) and Council of Canadians (16,000 names), with the support of hundreds of health food stores nationwide. Many groups including Gene Action (Toronto), Biotech Action Montreal, Council of Canadians, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, EarthSave and Canadian Alert on Genetic Engineering (CAGE) have organized actions across the country alerting Canadians about the hazards of genetically engineered foods.
Corn Growers Say No
The American Corn Growers Association is warning farmers not to plant genetically engineered crops in order to prevent loss of foreign and domestic markets. Gary Goldberg, CEO of ACGA, said: "Everywhere we turn, our customers are rejecting GMOs [genetically]."
Italy Suspends Seven Crops
The Italian government recently banned seven GE varieties of corn and canola oil. Portugal halted production of two genetically engineered strains of corn, with 15 other strains expected not to be approved. Human safety and environmental concerns were cited as the reasons.
Woolworths Pulls Products
The South African retail chain of Woolworths is removing all known GE foods from its shelves until they are proven safe. Other chains are expected to follow.